What's New(s)

WHAT’S NEW(S) – 20/11/2020

WHAT’S NEW(S) – 20/11/2020

What's next for Brexit ?

This weekly broadcast series presents the European news from different angles and perspectives. Which events and developments have made the news, and how? Each week we take a closer look at one event that dominated this week’s news, and quickly discuss other topics that grabbed the headlines in various countries across the continent.

With advisor Dominic Cummings resigning and Biden being elected as the new U.S. president, the possibility of the UK and the EU reaching an agreement before January 1st seems even less unlikely. A senior EU official stated last week in the Guardian that the EU summit on November 19 would be the last chance find an agreement. Hard deadlines were however set and broken before. What does the EU press predict, will a deal be reached soon?

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With advisor Dominic Cummings resigning and Biden being elected as the new U.S. president, the possibility of the UK and the EU reaching an agreement before January 1st seems even less unlikely. What does the EU press predict, will consensus be reached soon?

Euractive’s journalists don’t feel pretty confident about that. They described this last attempt to reach a deal as a ‘desperate final stretch with both sides determined not to give ground, despite the looming threat of failure…’ Italian newspaper La Repubblica doubts whether this will really be the last week of negotiations. Politico writes both sides are eyeing the beginning of next week for a possible landing zone of a deal, if there will be any. German newspaper Der Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung compares the situation at the British political top to the Netflix popular series the Crown, with one important difference: there is no script writer who can pull all the strings, foreseeing more drama ahead for the PM and his entourage.

Last Friday, media spotted Dominic Cummings closing his office door carrying a carton box with his belongings. What impact will his resignation have on the negotiations?

Die Welt writes that Cummings, also dubbed as “Johnson’s brain” and the initiator behind Brexit’s main slogan “Take back control” is leaving Downing street in the middle of the last efforts of the EU and UK to strike a post-Brexit trade relationship. Spanish Newspaper La Voz de Galicia states that Boris Johnson is now forced to rebuild his inner circle in the upcoming crucial weeks. According to Politico however, Cumming’s exit will not have a major impact on Brexit negotiations, since UK officials say the Prime Minister has the strongest voice in the room, and David Frost, Johnson’s hard-nosed chief negotiator remains at post.

And taking a look across the channel, what does the UK press write on recent developments?

The Guardian predicts it is likely an agreement will be found even later than next week, meaning that the European Parliament voting on the deal will have to be postponed to December 28th, only three days before the UK is officially exiting. Popular newspaper the Sun foresees a ‘looming disaster’ if no deal will be sealed, including ‘cod wars’ at sea, ‘organized crime bonanzas’ at Northern Ireland’s border and a major operational impact for the UK police. Rob Merrick writes in the Independent that groups in Northern Ireland warned for a disaster, with the business community being not prepared at all for the new chaotic trade rules. The Economist argues Biden’s victory can also force PM Johnson to change his strategy. If Britain leaves the EU without an agreement that respects the Good Friday Agreement in Ireland, the UK would not get a trade deal with the USA.

Moving to other headlines across Europe this week. Erik, what made the news in Spain?

The front pages of the Spanish press have focused almost exclusively on the country's domestic policy and more specifically on the approval of the general national budget for 2021. The approval of the budgets by Bildu, a coalition of Basque pro-independence parties, has irritated a sector of the opposition that does not consider their participation to be legitimate or even ethical. And, on a sad note, this week Spain was going to launch its first satellite into space, but a human error in the assembly of the cables ruined the mission just 8 minutes after the take-off. They had spent more than 10 years and 200 million euros on its development. ‘From pride to disappointment’, was the headline of newspaper El Mundo.

What about the news in Belgium?

Not surprisingly, Brexit and vaccine developments also made the headlines in Belgium. Besides, there was the news about a new shocking Amnesty report in which the human rights organisation stated that the fundamental rights of the elderly in nursing homes were violated during the first lock down. Media shared poignant stories of neglect, of elderly being deprived of the right to healthcare, and of a woman that did not get water for one-and-a-half weeks. Belgian Minister of Healthcare Wouter Beke reacted by stating that Belgium was not prepared for this immense crisis, and that the country has drawn lessons from the past months.

How about the Netherlands?

Except from Corona-news, the Dutch press paid attention to the escalations in Ethiopia and the election of female president Maia Sandu in Moldova who promised to tackle corruption and strengthen collaboration with the European Union. Besides, images of the ‘Farmers’ Defence Force’ driving to the Dutch political capital with tractors pictured the news on Tuesday. It has been months now that farmers have been protesting against the nitrogen reduction policies of the Dutch government, that are supposed to enter in force in January. Dutch newspaper NRC also paid some attention to Macron’s attempts to control the news. The newspaper describes how he called the editorial of several Anglophone newspapers to remove articles that spoke too negative of islamophobia in France and Macron’s attack on radical Islamism.

Erik Ruiz Martín & Nadine Vermeulen

crédits photo: Foto-Rabe de Pixabay