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May 04, 2016

Hungarian refugee referendum to go ahead

The European Commission is today expected to announce its proposal for an overhaul of the EU's asylum system, including resettlement quotas and a financial charge. This is variously called a 'solidarity contribution', a 'fee' or a 'fine' of €250,000 per refugee for countries that refuse to take their quota. The size of the contribution is intended to be punitive. While the paper writes that eastern European countries would "welcome" an alternative to hosting refugees, Hungarian sources tell Newsweek that any fee would be interpreted as 'blackmail' and possibly vetoed at the Council eventually. 

Hungary, meanwhile, will be getting ready to hold a referendum proposed by Viktor Orbán on the refugee quota system. The country's supreme court or Curia yesterday endorsed the constitutionality of the referendum question, which reads:

“Do you want the European Union without the consent of the Hungarian parliament to prescribe that it be mandatory to resettle non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary?” 

The constitutionality hinged on whether it is possible to hod a referendum on a matter governed by Hungary's international agreements where the Hungarian parliament does not have jurisdiction. The referendum is planned for early Aautumn.

 

 

 

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May 04, 2016

Is a TTIP agreement out of reach?

The German press seems to be in agreement that TTIP is dead in the water, now that François Hollande has openly declared that he will not ratify any agreement unless the US changes its negotiating position on all the key areas. The French trade minister Matthias Fekl told a French radio station that the most likely outcome would be a suspension of the agreement. And the German head of the European Parliament's trade committee agrees. 

Spiegel Online has a chart highlighting the areas where the negotiators have made progress, and where they have not. Only four of 27 areas are in an advanced stage. Given that these talks have already gone on for three years, it appears improbable that agreement will be reached before the end of the year. The leaked papers, however, do not reflect the current negotiating positions, but those before the 13th round of negotiations, which concluded last Friday. The article quotes the EU chief negotiator Ignacio García Bercero as claiming that there had been significant progress on the issue of market access of European companies to the US, and vice versa, and on regulatory questions, but there will be no further details until the next document leak. The article makes the point that, given the complexity of the Europeans finding their own common negotiating position, it is virtually impossible that an agreement will be ready. And, in the US, all presidential candidates including Hillary Clinton have come out against TTIP.

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