European News Update January no 5


Germany: 280,000 new asylum seekers in 2016

  According to an estimate by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, the number of asylum seekers entering Germany decreased in

2016 dropping from 890,000 in 2015 to 280,000 in 2016

Frontex: Creation of a new pool of experts on migrant returns.

 On 10th January the European border and coast guard agency, Frontex announced the creation of a pool of expert designed to help the Schengen Area State in returning illegal migrants to their countries of origin

Austria: asylum requests down by half in 2016 

The number of asylum seekers in Austria dropped by half in 2016 but remains “at a high level” according to figures released by the Ministry for Home Affairs on 15th January. Some 42,100 people asked for asylum in Austria last year, ie 52% fewer than in 2015 at the peak of the wave of refugees which witnessed the request for asylum by 90,000 people in the country…

Commission: A service economy that serves Europeans.

 On 10th January the Commission presented measures designed for businesses and professionals in order to facilitate the provision of services: a new electronic service card, guidelines for national reforms in terms of professional regulations, the improvement of project notifications of national law on services

Parliament: Request for European rules on robots 

 On 12th January the Legal Affairs Committee at the European Parliament voted in support of a legislative initiative inviting the European Commission to suggest rules in the area of robotics

 Approval of Gunther Oettinger in his new post at the Commission 

 Following the appointment of Gunther Oettinger as Commissioner for the Budget and responsible for “Human Resources”, the three parliamentary committees responsible for his audition deemed that he is in a position to take over these two portfolio in a letter addressed to the President of the European Parliament on 12th January. 

Diplomacy: Donald Trump attacks the European Union 

  American President elect Donald Trump forecast in an interview in the daily newspapers Times and Bild that Brexit would be “a success” and announced that he wanted to conclude a trade agreement with the UK as quickly as possible. He also said he thought that Angela Merkel had committed a “catastrophic mistake” by opening her country to migrants and accused Germany of dominating Europe.

Conclusions of the Foreign Affairs Ministers’ Meeting can be found HERE, in short, however; 

On 16th January the 28 Foreign Affairs Ministers discussed the future of Syria and said they supported the organisation of a conference on Syria and the region in the spring of 2017. Moreover they discussed the need for peace and a two-State solution for Israel and Palestine. They also repeated their support for the democratic transition of Lebanon


Germany: New measures in terms of domestic security 

 On 10th January, the German Minister for Home Affairs, Thomas deMaizière and Justice Minister Heiko Maas agreed on the need to introduce new security measures

 Bulgaria: Creation of a new political party in Bulgaria

A new political party was created in Bulgaria as the general elections that are to take place in the spring draw closer in the spring of 2017. “Yes Bulgaria” aims to be against corruption and is anti-establishment. It is led by former Justice Minister, Hristo Ivanov…

 Iceland: New government coalition

 On 10th January three Icelandic political parties (the Independence Party, Reform Party and Bright Future) formed a government led by Bjarni Benediktsson, Finance Minister since 2013, comprising 10 ministers, four of whom are women

Cyprus: Negotiations in view of reunification 

After three days of talks from 9th to 11th January in Geneva negotiations over the reunification of Cyprus ended with an international conference under the aegis of the UN. A working group will be formed on 18th January.

Luxembourg : Angela Merkel in Luxembourg and Belgium 

On 12th January German Chancellor Angela Merkel travelled to

Luxembourg and Belgium. With her Luxembourg and Belgian counterparts she discussed the main issues in European and international policy, notably regarding the future of the EU and the refugee crisis