Daily Digest: Barroso eyes momentum for eurozone integration

President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso will push for a plan of further integration in the eurozon, and says he currently has political momentum for such a plan. This momentum lies in the continued worsening of the eurozone crisis. Barroso is to present the Commission’s ideas to EU leaders at the next EU summit in the end of June. These ideas include a banking union, tighter supervision, stability bonds and the possibility of the European Stability Mechanism to lend directly to banks instead of only governments. The ideas are not new, but they are apparently gaining support amid fears of Spain becoming the new Greece. They are still controversial, however, and Germany is particularly opposed to them. Despite this opposition, Barroso is confident that EU leaders’ thinking is constantly evolving, and that “The movement is in favour of more integration in the euro area”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ambitious plan for moving away from nuclear power to a Germany that relies entirely on renewable energy is falling behind schedule and seems to be far away. An estimation of the costs of the plan lies at 20 billion euros over the next decade. But money is not the only problem; the project requires a series of new power lines across the country for distributing the energy, but this needs to be approved by local authorities in each German state, and paperwork is slowing down the project. Operators will try to meet the citizens over the internet and in community gatherings over the next six weeks in order to ease the level of resistance.

Following up on the G8 summit earlier this month, US President Barack Obama held a video conference yesterday with Angela Merkel, French President Francoise Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti. The reason for the conference was according to a White House statement that “Leaders agreed to continue to consult closely as they prepare to meet at the G-20 Summit in Mexico next month”. The four leaders discussed the euro crisis as well as the need to stop the violence in Syria.

Despite wanting to keep this close consultation with EU leaders, Mr. Obama is not very popular with one EU leader at the moment, namely the Polish one. Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk denounces the President after Obama made an unfortunate remark. In bestowing a Presidential Medal of Freedom on the Polish resistance hero, Jan Karski on Tuesday, President Obama referred to a “Polish death camp” instead of saying a Nazi death camp in Poland. This caused an outrage by Donald Tusk who said Obama was guilty of “ignorance, lack of knowledge, bad intentions”. The medal bestowed on Mr. Karski is the highest American civilian honour. Karski warned President Franklin D. Roosevelt about the horrors of the Holocaust and was later a professor at Georgetown University in Washington.

Newly elected French President Francoise Hollande has a huge challenge in living up to his campaign promise of tackling the country’s high unemployment rate. 2.9 million Frenchmen are currently without a job, and statistics for the first quarter of 2012 are expected to present an unemployment rate of 9.7, which would be the highest in France in 12 years.

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