What’s up Europe?
Your daily feed about European affairs.
After American President Donald J. Trump announced last week that his country will pull out of the Iran deal (the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” or JPCOA), the world waited for the reactions of the other seven signatories. The Iranian government soon responded in by maintaining its commitment to the deal, but making that commitment conditional on receiving sufficient guarantees from the other parties, in particular, the Europeans. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani threatened to resume the unlimited enrichment of Uranium, should the US withdrawal result in a loss of the economic benefits Iran had hoped to acquire under the deal. The European Commission has announced to reactivate the 1996 Blocking Statute, that would penalize companies for complying with the US sanctions. The Commission also pledged to facilitate investment in Iran through the European Investment Bank. Whether these concessions are sufficient to persuade Iran remains to be seen.
The EU’s reaction to the USA’s withdrawal from the Iran deal
After the US Congress hearing of Mark Zuckerberg (the Chairman and CEO of Facebook), the European public has been expecting a similar meeting in the European Parliament (EP). After all, the number of Facebook users in the European Union exceeds the amount of US users. However, EP President Antonio Tanjani has suggested that parliamentary group leaders meet Zuckerberg behind closed doors. The motion was approved by the EPP, ECR, and EFDD groups of the EP. European Commissioner for Justice, Věra Jourová, Greens/EFA presidents Ska Keller and Philippe Lamberts, and Guy Verhofstadt, president of the ALDE group have already raised their criticism by adorating an open hearing. In addition, Verhofstadt has announced his intention not to attend the meeting. EP President Tajani responded quite surprisingly to the criticism, by tweeting “It is not your job to control and criticize the @Europarl_EN (EP)”.
Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to come before the European Parliament (but not as you might have thought he would)
Did you know? You have the right, as an EU citizen, to invite our European Commission to propose legislative acts in any policy-field where it has the power to legislate. How? You need to launch a “European Citizens’ Initiative”. Granted as a right in the 2007 Lisbon treaty, an ECI is a tool of participatory democracy, through which EU citizens can directly participate in the policy-making processes of our European Union. In order for a proposal to be considered, three conditions must be met. First, 1.000.000 statements of support must be collected from EU citizens who are of voting age (16 in Austria and Malta, 18 in all other Member States). Secondly, a certain signature threshold must be met in 7 EU Member states (in Cyprus it is 4,500, while in Germany 72,000). Thirdly, all of this must be done with one year of the date of registration.
Find out more about the European Citizen’s Initiative system here.
European Citizens’ Initiatives: your right and ability as an EU citizen to drive change
Nord Stream 2 is the name of a planned gas pipeline linking the Russian Baltic sea coast with Germany. The project is financed by European energy companies and Gazprom, latter being the sole shareholder of the project’s developer Nord Stream 2 AG. Nord Stream 2 is massively controversial because it appears to undermine the EU’s Energy Security Strategy, which is to diversify its gas supplies in the face of Russia’s dominant position in the European energy markets. Furthermore, the Ukrainian government is concerned that Nord Stream 2 would make the old Nord Stream pipeline running through Ukraine obsolete, thus allowing Russia a freer hand. While Denmark still has to decide whether it will allow construction in its exclusive economic zone, a common EU stance has proved elusive, with some member states like Poland strongly opposing the project and others like Germany having a more ambivalent stance.
Nord Stream 2: Energy as a Security Issue
Despite two meetings between D. Trump and EU’s leaders and ostensible friendship between the US President and his French counterpart, the US is officially withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action). While the fate of the agreement is unsure and a lot will depend on the reaction of Iran’s government, High Representative of the EU F. Mogherini has already announced that the deal can survive without the United States. The diplomats of France, Germany, UK, Russia, China and Iran are about to meet next week to discuss further actions. This will test the strength of the international community but may also be a chance for the EU to demonstrate the ability to act more independently. The deal has been signed by 7 countries, which worked on it for 12 years.
Read more on Politico.
Iran deal - EU’s perspective
Many EU officials, including Budget and HR Commissioner Goettinger, have been critical of net-beneficiaries of the EU budget who are accused of continuously breaking foundational values of the European Union (Article 2). According to European Commissioner of Justice, Věra Jourová, the Commission’s new proposal would freeze EU money to countries who curb the rule of law or/and misuse allocated funds. Interestingly, while the adoption of the Multiannual Financial Framework (budget) requires unanimity in the Council, the former proposal requires only a simple majority, making its approval fairly easy. Moreover, after the adoption of the proposal, countries accused of violation can lose prospective financial assets by a simple majority in the Council.
EU budget – The European Commission seeks a new tool to enforce member state compliance to fundamental principles
Dear Talos Community,
Welcome to our “What’s up Europe” section! It has been almost 20 weeks since we launched our website and in the past few weeks, we have listened very closely to your suggestions for improvement and your ideas for Talos. Instead of focussing on a specific topic each weak, we have decided to present you the news in a blog-style feed. Our aim is not to update you on everything that is happening in Europe, but rather to connect these events and put them in an understandable context with background information and opinions. You will still have the possibility to continue reading on a diverse range of news sources across Europe if you want to know more on a specific topic. On the bottom of the page, you will further have the possibility to discuss what’s going on in Europe in our Speaker’s Corner. And who knows, maybe “What’s up Europe” will be a part of your daily morning-news-dose in the near future. Thank you for your support as we are continuously improving our website!
PS: We are currently working on additional possibilities for you to become engaged in Europe – we want to give you a place where you can bring forward your causes and push them to reach the decision-makers in Europe. Stay tuned!