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The 2017 of the EU from A to Z as seen by Eunews

The 2017 of the EU from A to Z as seen by Eunews

From "Antonio Tajani" to “Eurozone", passing throught "Glyphosate", "Roaming" and "To Tèlos"

ANTONIO TAJANI: the 17th of January the Plenary elected Antonio Tajani new president of the European Parliament. With him an Italian comes back to lead the EU institution after 38 years. The last time for an Italian at the head of the Parliament was in the 70’s (1977-1979), with Emilio Colombo.

BREXIT: the 29th of March the United Kingdom presented the formal notification of the intention of leaving the European Union. By that move the Brexit process started.

CATALONIA: the 1st of October a referendum for the independence was held in Catalonia. The government of Spain strongly opposed and condemned the initiative because against the Spanish Constitution. The outcome were riots before and after the consultation, and a European arrest warrant against Carles Puigdemont, then withdrawn, the leader of the Catalan independentist movement and former governor of Catalonia.

DANGER FROM EXTREME RIGHT: 2017 is the year of the great advance of the extreme right in Europe, a strongly Euro-skeptical right. In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders’ PVV becomes the second party in the House of Representatives, in Germany Afd becomes the third party in the September elections, with members of a group with pro-Nazi sympathies who return to sit in the Bundestag since the Republic of Weimbar. In France the Front National of Marine Le Pen arrives in the second round of the presidential elections.

EBA/EMA: the European Banking Authority (EBA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) must be relocated from London because of Brexit. EU bodies have to be within the EU territory, and the United Kingdom is going to became soon a third country. The 20th of November the General Affairs Council took the decision to move EBA from London to Paris, and EMA from London to Amsterdam. Both decision were taken by extraction due the impossibility to reach the qualified majority.

FRAU MERKEL: Angela Merkel, lady of Germany and Europe, was able to win the general elections for the forth time in a row. Al September vote she lost something in terms of consensus, which made more complicated the formation of a coalition government, still not there.

GLYPHOSATE: 2017 was the year of the decision on the renewal of authorizations for glyphosate, the substance contained in herbicides used in agriculture. Expiring on December the 15th, a judgement on whether grant new licences was needed. Member States haven’t been able to find a position for long time. After many divisions and the impossibility of a vote for several weeks, at the end States voted by qualified majority for a five-year renewal of the active ingredient.

HELMUT KOHL: on June the 16th Helmut Kohl died t at the age of 87. German chancellor between 1982 and 1990, he was the first chancellor of the re-united Germany. With him in power, even the eastern part of Germany was finally able to join the EU. Considered one of the main maker of the united Germany, Kohl was a strongly convinced pro-European politician. It was him one of the main contributors of the Maastricht Treaty, the legal text which set up the European Union.

IS: 2017 has been another year of terror for Europe. The 17th og August members of the so-called Islamic State hit with a van thrown on the passers-by in the Rambla. At the end the death toll was of 16 people, with 130 wounded. The attack was claimed by IS, as an action to punish Spain which is a member of the anti-Islamic State coalition.

JURI RATAS: the Prime Minister of Estonia is the protagonist of the daring first Estonian Presidency of the EU Council in the history of the European Union. Because of Brexit, which forces the British to renounce the presidency semester, Ratas and his government must anticipate their debut in the Council for six months. They know how to be up to the task, and they are – it must be said – proud to be able to do it.

KARL KREILE & BODO MENDE: names and persons that would suggest little to many people, but these two Germans citizens maked an historic moment the 1st of October by getting married the same day in which new legislation allowing same-sex marriage entered into force. The one between Karl Kreile and Bodo Mende will be remembered as the first same-sex marriage ever celebrated in Germany.

LIBYA: the EU-AU summit hold in Adibjan at the end on November marked a new, unprecedent, cooperation between the European Union and the African Union for the management of migration flows in Libya. For the first since the outbreak of the asylum seekers crisis, the AU is directly involved in the country once ruled by Muammar Gaddafi. According to the new partnership a joint EU-AU-UN Task Force will be created in order to “save and protect lives of migrants and refugees along the routes and in particular inside Libya”.

MONSANTO: the American agrochemical and biotechnology corporation was banned from the European Parliament in response of a non participation to a public hearing on glyphosate. The 28th of September the EU institutions announced that Monsanto lobbysts are no longer allowed to come in.

NEW FRENCH COURSE: Emmanuel Macron and his party En Marche! rewrite the political history of France. Avoiding the victory of the Euro-skeptical right represented by the Front National of Marine Le Pen, but to the detriment of traditional parties. For the first time, neither of the two main parties (the Socialist Party and the Republican Party) comes to contend the presidency of the republic.

OBLIGATIONS TO MEET: the Italian Draft Budgetary Plan (DBP) was not endorsed by the European Commission, who requested Italy to make a further corrective effort amounting to 0,2% of the GDP. The EU warning came the 22th of Novemer. With no progress in 2018 the European Commission could take actions against the Member States.

PUBLIC PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE: the 8th of June the EU Member States reached a political agreement for the creation of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), with the aim of tackling corruption, fraud against EU structural funds or large-scale cross-border VAT fraud. Up until now 20 Member States out 28 decided to join the EPPO (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain).

QUANTITATIVE EASING: ECB president Mario Draghi announced the beginning of the end of the programme for the purchase of predetermined amounts of government bonds or other financial assets in order to stimulate the real economy. From 2018 the European Central Bank will buy 30 billion € of such a bonds and assets per months instead of 60 billion € as done until today.

ROAMING: the 15th of June roaming was put to an end. All the extra charges for phone calls and portable devices used abroad have been abolished thanks to the legislative initiative of the European Commission, who worked hard to fulfill one of its top political priorities. The end of roaming is not just about tariffs, it has above all about a huge symbolic relevance in terms of a united Europe with no borders.

SIMONE VEIL: On June, the 30th, Simone Veil died at the age of 89. The French woman is well known to have become, in 1979, the first female president of the European Parliament

TO TÉLOS: ie “the end”, as they say in Greek. 2017 will be remembered as the year in which the Hellenic financial crisis has been put at the back, for the good of the Euro area as a whole. The European Commission proposed to close the excessive deficit procedure opened against Athens becauce of his budgetary situation. The Council of the EU approved the request. Greece is not scary any longer.

UNITY (AT 27): “Unity” has become the new motto of the EU after the formal notification of the UK to leave the European Union. Since then, everybody has stated and reiterated up and down the EU the need of speaking at one voice during the Brexit negotiation process as well as in dealing with all the major challenges could potentially undermine the European project. Unity is more than a refrain, it is perhaps the latest politic programme of Europe from now on.

VICE PRESIDENCE AT 5 STARS: the 15th of November the members of the Parliament appointed the 5 Star Movement MEP Fabio Massimo Castaldo vice president of the EU institution. This is the most prominent position ever held by M5S at European level.

WARSAW: with an unprecedent decision the European Commission called the EU Council to suspend the voting right to Poland. The political move came the 20th of December in response of the breaches of the rule of law in the eastern country caused by reformes passed in Warsaw by the Polish government. The EU Commission triggered the procedure foreseen by the Treaties, as never happened before.

ZONE, EURO ZONE: (sorry for that, but we love Bond, James Bond): in 2017 the debate on the future of economic and monetary union is re-launched. The proposals presented by the Commission at the beginning of December suggest the transformation of the ESF saving-State fund into a real European Monetary Fund. There are also talks about a eurozone budget with a special finance minister.