The real-time complement to the TEE newsletter, Trans-Europe Express live is updated daily, focusing on new EURACTIV Network and Media Partner content, and commentary.
Wouldn’t resist a Russian invasion. The idea of creating a powerful EU army continues to divide opinion in neutral Austria. Critics of the plan say its neutrality is incompatible with joint military cooperation.
Anti-racist but pro-Brexit. “I would like to see a deal where we couldn’t perceive the UK or the EU as winners or losers. Where the UK is no longer a reluctant tenant of the EU but we are good neighbours,” ECR chief Syed Kamall told EURACTIV Poland.
Mushroom clouds are prettier. The Commission’s Clean Energy proposal will lead to a price increase for households, Andrea Beatrix Kádár of the Hungarian Ministry of Development told EURACTIV Slovakia.
Not green enough. Sales of organic produce are on the up in Europe. In 2015 alone, they rose by 13%, so it is no surprise the industry is struggling to approve proposed reforms to the EU’s eco-regulation.German Greens MEP Martin Hausling hopes to do something about it.
Peace through capitalism. The European Union hopes six Balkan countries will agree at a summit on July 12 in Italy to create a regional common market that could be working within a year, a top EU official said on Tuesday, in the bloc’s latest step to re-engage the region.
They’re all criminals. The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) is investigating several European politicians and high-ranking civil servants for tax evasion, using information leaked in the Panama Papers scandal.
Crisis of Westernisation. Moldova is deeply divided between pro-European and pro-Russian forces. In an interview with EURACTIV Slovakia, Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Andrei Galbur, a member of a decidedly Russia-friendly government, says the EU is the only option.
Towards a 5 Star government. Italy’s Constitutional Affairs Committee this week signed off on a new electoral law after the main parties reached a deal which could pave the way to a national election in the autumn.
And they denounce multiculturalism. Thousands of Slovaks rallied in Bratislava on Monday to protest against corruption and demand the resignation of the interior minister over his ties with a developer under investigation for tax fraud.
Poland means disappointment. Under PiS Chairman Jarosław Kaczyński (hailed “Naczelnik” by supporters – a title, meaning “Chief of State”), the country is turning away from the EU’s liberal-democratic values the Poles so painstakingly won in 1989, writes Martin Mycielski.
Fascists like animals. Silvio Berlusconi is intent on regaining his crown. So much so that the disgraced ho-friendly billionaire has to decided to cash in on vegan PETA culture, albeit without the squatters and the dreadlocks. Enter his Movimento Animalista (Movement for Animals) which he helped found in May, with Michela Vittoria Brambilla, an MP for Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party.
The anti-Orban. He may be a billionaire, but his heart is in the right place, and he’s the ideological antithesis of the evil Jewish banker caricatured by his illiberal Hungarian enemies. In an op-ed for Project Syndicate, George Soros says Europe’s worth saving, but that the EU needs to get a firmer grip on its problems, slamming Brussels’ austerity policies, in particular.
Schizophrenic on defence. In a stereotypically German display of ambivalence, a PEW study reported last week that only 40% of Germans would back military support for a partner in “serious military conflict” with Russia. This week, however, the Bundeswehr fired back, pointing to its own December 2016 study, reporting that 73% of Germans are in favour of NATO defending its allies from attack.
Turkish-Greek hostilities. No, it’s not about Cyprus or the Aegean. It’s about Greece being more welcoming to tourists than Turkey, engulfed as it is in a civil war with the Kurds. Tourists are voting with their feet and heading to Greek beaches, but Turkish fisherman are successfully retaliating by lowering their export prices.
Secondary motion. Serbia may have a new president – ex-Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić. However, the public is trying to guess who the new premier will be and whether an early general election will be called. Will it make a difference? Not really. Like Turkey, Serbia is run by its new president. A fresh premier will only serve as window dressing.
Return to sender. Serbia’s Aleksandar Vučić, who was sworn in as the country’s president on Wednesday, wants to open a debate over the future of Kosovo, the breakaway province whose independence Belgrade has refused to recognise. Chances are it would be less troublesome under Serbian control, than it is to remain an EU colony, or to unite with Albania.
Mideast vs Europe. For the umpteenth time, Jean-Claude Juncker threw down the EU gauntlet on the death penalty issue with Turkey. Tying EU membership negotiations, in part, to Turkey’s reintroduction of capital punishment, the cultural barriers dividing Ankara from Brussels could not be any clearer.
Fearful of losing EU funding? Immediately following reports that Germany “is looking into ways to enable the European Commission to freeze funding for EU member countries that don’t comply with the bloc’s standards regarding the rule of law”, Poland announced that it is considering taking in Syrian refugees, for the first time, who need medical treatment.
From socialist to nationalist? Austria’s governing Socialists can’t seem to cut a deal with other left-wing and centrist parties to form a stable coalition government. So, in the run-up to the October election, Chancellor Christian Kern is considering a coalition with the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ).
Take some responsibility. According to Médecins du Monde, the closure of the EU’s borders has forced more migrants to take the most dangerous routes to Europe, across the Mediterranean. “We have to stop these deaths at sea,” a spokesman for the NGO told EURACTIV media partner EFE.
Still propaganda after all these years. Russia just can’t seem to quit producing fake news. Or so newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron told his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, on a trip to Moscow this week.
The anti-Trump. It’s more of a democracy than China, and it has a similarly hefty appetite for foreign investment. In start contrast to US Donald President Trump’s visit to Europe last week, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Berlin, which began on Monday, has everyone smiling.
People, not politics. Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski has said the crisis between Warsaw and Brussels is not about politics but people – First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, to be precise. If only it was that simple.
Back of the bus. Trump loves hierarchy. Particularly when it comes to Europe. Far be it for the US president to break form with the Montenegrin President Duško Marković. Shoved by Trump at the NATO press conference in Brussels, Trump just had to show the Balkan leader how junior he really is.
Let them eat dog food. Decrying the unequal distribution of quality foods between Eastern and Western Europe, Bulgarian President Boyko Borissov has dubbed the practice “apartheid.” The loaded term, historically tied to South Africa, and more recently Israel-Palestine, had never been applied to food before.
Communism failed to instil tolerance. According to a new poll, 38% of Poles would prefer to be fined by the European Union than accept refugees. The survey, commissioned by the Dziennik Gazeta Prawna, found that 29% support the country would accept them, while 57% oppose the idea.
Mixed feelings. European approval of NATO is on the rise, according to a US study. Germans support the alliance too but in a conflict with Russia, only a minority would back defending a partner country.
The American problem. Limits EU ministers agreed on Tuesday to stricter requirements for online media platforms. Under the proposed rules, at least 30% of the content offered by companies such as Netflix, Google Play and iTunes will have to be produced in Europe.
Blame the church, not NGOs. Italian police arrested 70 members of the powerful ‘Ndrangheta mafia syndicate, after the gang pocketed €35 million in public funds, with the help of a Catholic charity organisation.
So much for the Paris Agreement. Eighteen months after its adoption, the most vulnerable countries are worried by the lack of progress that has been made so far. They hope their example will spur the most developed countries into action.
A delicate balancing act. In spite his efforts to keep Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has congratulated Iranian President Hassan Rouhani for securing reelection on Friday, assuring him that the EU will continue to work towards full implementation of the landmark nuclear deal.
Can you blame them? The new French president was the main topic of conversation among visibly excited MEPs in Strasbourg this week. But the French themselves were among the least enthusiastic.
When Western intervention works. A three-month standoff that had blocked progress on reforms to Albania’s government ended on Thursday, as the ruling parties and the opposition reached agreement on how to resolve their conflict.
Communication breakdown. The chief of UNMIK, the UN mission in Kosovo, Zahir Tanin warned of rising tensions in Kosovo and weakening trust between Belgrade and Pristina during Tuesday’s UN Security Council session.
Romanian humanitarian values. Hassan was in Kirkuk when a bomb exploded in a nearby building. He was with some friends. They entered to see if they can help. A machine gun opened fire on them. His companions died. He is now 18 and calls Romania his home.
Romanian family values. 33 MEPs have written to the Romanian parliament, urging legislators not to vote in favour of a referendum on amending the definition of a marriage in the constitution from “between spouses” to between a man and a woman. If passed by the Senate and supported by voters, it would make same-sex marriages all but impossible in the country.
Redneck country. A new study has found that Poland is among the EU’s least tolerant countries. The study by ILGA-Europe, an organisation campaigning for political, legal and social change to the treatment of LGBTQ people, gave Poland 18 out of a possible 100 points.
Facebook blues. Slovakia’s far-right Peoples Party accounts for approximately 140 user profiles. The Slovak Spectator reports that over the last month, the social media giant took down 37 of them after they were reported for spreading hate speech. But FB has also backtracked, apparently, restoring some accounts, while not, for unexplained reasons, going after others.
Older than Germany. Italy’s national statistics agency, ISTAT, reported on Wednesday that the proportion of people aged 65 or over was 22%, the highest in the EU and “one of the highest levels of aging in the world.” The number of people aged 80 or over amounts to 4.1 million. No wonder the PD and 5 Star are discussing lowering Italy’s voting age to 16.
Time to boot Fidesz.The centre-right European Peoples’ Party (EPP) was badly fractured yesterday (17 May) over a vote condemning the “serious deterioration” in the rule of law and fundamental rights in Hungary, with 107 of the group’s MEPs voting against their sister party Fidesz, and only 92 supporting it.
Might as well be Hungary. Adopted after bitter wrangling by the European Parliament last December, the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework has now been blocked by the United Kingdom, which seems intent on laying obstacles in the road for the bloc.
Discipline and punish. The European Commission officially opened another infringement procedure against Hungary on Wednesday (17 May) over the latest amendments to its Asylum Law, which open the door to various types of abuses of asylum seekers.
Too late. The European Union launched legal action against Italy on Wednesday (17 May) for failing to police allegations of emissions-test cheating by Fiat Chrysler properly following the Volkswagen Dieselgate scandal, EU sources said
Take away their iPhones. EU ministers agreed on Tuesday(16 May) to continue long drawn-out talks with Poland in a bid to stop its alleged breaches of the rule of law, backing away for now from threatening sanctions. Brussels may still decide that the rule of law has been violated by Warsaw.
Now if only she’ll make nice with Apple. The tech industry is relieved that Bulgaria’s nominee for Commissioner will oversee digital policies, filling a gap left open for four months after Günther Oettinger transferred to the budget post.
First the Kurds, now Greece. Turkish fighter jets and helicopters illegally entered Greece’s airspace 141 times on Monday (15 May), the Hellenic National Defence General Staff reported. Are Athens and Ankara on the brink of a new war?
Brexit diminished Frexit. It didn’t exactly reignite enthusiasm for Europe, but it wasn’t bad for it either. EURACTIV France spoke to academic Cédric Villani about the meaning of Macron’s win.
Blame Hungary and Poland. Russian human rights activists in Brussels yesterday (15 May) called on the EU to stand up for its values, as they feared that those principles were quickly eroding.
Schulz was the wrong choice. Chancellor Angela Merkel dealt a devastating blow to her main rival on Sunday (14 May), four months before national elections, when early results showed her party securing a strong win in a regional vote in Germany’s biggest state.
The British don’t care. “We cannot have a border like we had before,” Taoiseach Enda Kenny has warned delegates at the meeting of the European People’s Party in Ireland. Mr Kenny reminded the attendees that with the Irish border came “sectarianism” and “30 years of violence”.
Firearms are freedom. Czech gun enthusiasts staged an anti-EU protest in Prague’s Wenceslas Square on Wednesday, to protest efforts by Brussels to clamp down on firearms ownership in the EU. According to the Prague Post, campaigners claim guns are needed for self-defense against terrorists, even though the member state has yet to experience such violence.
Socialist majority. According to an April survey, a majority of Spanish voters would vote for centre-left and left-wing parties if an election were held tomorrow. The ruling Partido Popular (PP) would still come first, with 31.5% of the vote, but the Socialists would come second with 19.9% and Podemos 19.7%. No coalition alternatives to the PP are discussed by the study.
Hybrid warfare. The bi-weekly Bojovník [Warrior] of the state-funded Union of Anti-Fascistic Warriors has been spreading anti-American, pro-Moscow news and opinions for three years, using Russian websites and conspiracy portals as sources, according to The Slovak Spectator. Slovakia’s Interior Ministry has initiated an investigation of the organisation.
Keeping Europe pure. On Wednesday, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó vetoed the European Consensus on Development, which outlines a strategy of “well-managed migration and mobility” to stimulate economic growth within the 28-nation bloc. Szijjártó said it is “unacceptable” that the EU thinks that immigration is “a positive thing”.
Criminalising refugee advocacy. Targeting NGOs such as Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), an Italian prosecutor, Ambrogio Cartosio, told Italy’s Senate defence committee on Wednesday that aid organisations were smuggling refugees into the country and that mafia-linked people were involved.
EU going Poland. The Union is increasingly adopting Poland’s stance on refugees, government spokesman Rafał Bochenek said on Wednesday. Pointing to a Civic Platform party announcement that it is now “against accepting illegal immigrants to Poland”, Bochenek said, “the arguments of Prime Minister Beata Szydło have been accepted by more and more EU member states”.
History at a standstill. Germany’s defence minister announced reforms Wednesday to rid the armed forces of links with the Nazi-era Wehrmacht, responding to a scandal around a far-right attack plot within the military. Two soldiers and one civilian have been arrested over an alleged conspiracy to kill pro-refugee politicians and – having created the fake identity of a Syrian refugee – make it look like an Islamist attack.
Why Erdoğan prefers Russia. More than 400 Turkish state officials are seeking asylum in Germany. Despite Ankara insisting these applications be denied, Berlin has granted protection to military personnel in a number of cases.
The government flu. The European Commission has endorsed Romania’s decision to temporarily suspend exports of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to the rest of the EU, following a serious measles outbreak in Romania, worsened, in part by the government.
Hence the appeal of populism. Low wages have been harming Central European economies since the crisis. According to a recent study, salaries fell to below 30% of the German average while productivity grew steadily.
Islamophobic subtext. The EU should recognise that Albanian politicians are the main threat to peace and stability not only in the Balkans but also in Europe, Serbia’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dačić told EURACTIV.com.
The Russians are coming (AfD remix). The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will decide in July at the earliest if it will monitor Germany’s September elections after the current government and the far-right AfD asked it to be involved.
It was Le Pen’s victory, too. In her concession speech, Le Pen welcomed “the elimination of the old parties and the reorganisation of French politics between the patriots and the globalists”, adding that she was “worried” about what the coming presidency would bring.
Temporary relief: Emmanuel Macron’s win in the French presidential election was welcomed across Europe, with many leaders hailing a victory for the European Union. But Le Marine Le Pen’s impressive showing has left a deep sense of insecurity about the bloc’s future.
Polish media: Mirror to the PiS crisis Polish media reflect the polarisation of the country. They can be categorised as “pro-ruling party” (conservative, nationalistic, “who’s not with us is against us” stance) and “anti-ruling party” (various world views from centre via progressive, to green and left). It is difficult though to categorise Polish journalistic freedom as being directly threatened since the media can speak freely. However, there are other problems that limit freedom of speech and the right to information:
1) Pro and anti-government propaganda and audiences: “Pro-ruling party” media are read only by “pro-ruling party” politicians and readers. The situation is mirrored in the “anti-ruling party” camp. Both sides ridicule opposing media, politicians and – actually also – people. How can we talk about media freedom and pluralism where people of one system of values and views are only exposed to the same values and views. There is no major media outlet that is respected by both sides of Polish politics.
2) ‘Anti-government’ media financing: Another indirect threat to media freedom is reducing the financing opportunities for media outlets for the “anti-ruling party” division. This problem has always been present in Poland, but to a much smaller scale than today. Government as well as the state – (co)owned companies have limited or withdrawn advertising and announcements in “anti-ruling party” media.
3) Limitation of coverage: “The government and the ruling party don’t talk to our journalists anymore” Gazeta Wyborcza’s news editor Roman Imielski told EurActiv.com. On the other hand, the “pro-ruling party” camp does not invite politicians and commentators with differing views. Poland held parliamentary elections on 25 October 2015. Already then, the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) “called for the reform of public media, having announced immediately after Election Day its ongoing preparations of a new broadcasting act and the intended transformation of public media into national media.
The tendency to review fundamental media-related provisions after changes in government and the attempts of greater control over media institutions demonstrate an inclination to see media regulation as an element of political strategy,” according to the OSCE/ODIHR Election Assessment Mission Report issued after the 25 October 2015 parliamentary elections in Poland won by Law and Justice. This inclination has turned into action, with the public media having been nationalised in December 2015. Nationalisation has meant the politicisation of the news.
Thus the public media – TVP and Polish Radio – play a major part in our “pro-ruling party” division of the Polish media landscape. Already at the beginning of the last year, the president of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) Mogens Blicher Bjerregård wrote: “How can we make sure the government in Turkey respects free media and stops interfering in the media if we do not act in Poland, an EU member?
Now it is up to the Commission to reaffirm the importance of fundamental EU values and the rule of law by taking action against Poland.” As he advised, the situation in Poland has attracted the attention of the European Commission, as well as of the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission, and of numerous European and American public figures, but no constructive response has been forthcoming from the Polish side.
Actually, European reaction has turned counterproductive, providing the Polish government and the whole “pro-government” camp with an easy excuse to scapegoat the European Union, which is claimed to be meddling with Polish sovereignty. – Karolina Zbytniewska
In Serbia, media freedom deteriorated over the past year. It fell from 59th place in 2015 to 66th. The chapter on Serbia states: “Media freedom has declined ever since Aleksandar Vucic, Slobodan Milosevic’s former information minister, became prime minister in May 2014.” In a recent report, the European Parliament also described unclear ownership structures and state financing of media in Serbia, especially at local level. – Smiljana Vukojicic
A year and a half into the Law and Justice party’s rule, Poland has fallen from 18th place in 2015 to 54th. The “good change” slogan preached by the ruling party has not exactly increased media freedom. – Karolina Zbytniewska
The Czech Republic assumes the 23rd place in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index, down from 21st in 2016. The country ranks amongst the best in Central and Eastern Europe in terms of press freedom, but several concerns remain. Since 2008, new oligarchs have been using their fortunes to buy up newspapers to consolidate their influence. One of them, Andrej Babiš, is both deputy premier and finance minister, as well as owner of the two most influential daily newspapers –Mladá fronta DNES and Lidové noviny. 24hrs after the Czech Premier Bohuslav Sobotka announced on Tuesday (2 May) the resignation of his cabinet – pointing at alleged tax evasion by Babiš as the reason for his decision – the billionaire published a protest advert in all Czech dailies, including his newspapers, and at social media. Parliamentary elections are due in October. – Adéla Denková
Placing 29th in 2016, Spain climbed five spots in the index but major challenges remain. The new Citizen Security Protection Law (also known as the “Gag law”) imposed severe restrictions on freedom of information. But other risks are a greater threat to the future of journalism. The economic crisis remains deeply felt, with media forced to fire thousands of journalists, cut salaries or close, with underpaid and unpaid freelancers now on the rise. – Jorge Valero
2017 World Press Freedom Index: Germany Germany remains at 16th place. Still, last year, journalists were shocked by numerous attacks, threats and intimidation attempts. Violence came mainly from right-wing populists and conservative groups. Although the number of attacks was lower than in 2015, they had an effect: Many journalists felt restricted in their work. The tense political situation in Turkey also impacts German journalists. Several Turkish editors, exiled journalists, and Turkish-speaking media figures based in Germany, known to be critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, experienced threats and hostility. Although the German government denied cooperating with the Turkish secret service, as long these journalists don’t commit any criminal acts under German law, the relationship remains opaque. There are also concerns about new legislation such as the reintroduction of the data retention Directive, and the newly-created whistleblower bill against “handling stolen data”. – Ama Lorenz
This year, Romania is ranked 46 in the World Press Freedom Index. RSF mentions “excessive politicization of the media, corrupt financing mechanisms, editorial policies subordinated to owner interests and intelligence agency infiltration of staff”. The Romanian press continues to struggle with defending its independence from political and oligarchic interests. A place of paradox, Romania also hosts some of the most successful regional investigative journalism centres, with a number of its leading investigative journalists (members of the Rise Project/ the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project) being part of the team behind the Pulitzer-winning Panama Papers. – Andrei Schwartz
France’s Reporters without Borders ranking is higher in 2016 than 2015, going from 45 to 39. But the ranking does not take into account recent developments, including how journalists became targeted during the presidential campaign.
The journalists who broke the story of François Fillon’s family fake jobs have been under attack at Le Canard Enchainé. They keep getting threats and insults letters. It’s a rather unpleasant situation, as the newspaper already had one of its staff killed in the Charlie Hebdo attack, in 2015. Some politicians in the right-wing Les Republicains and National Front parties, and the leftist La France insoumise keep questioning the credibility of the press.
Most of all, journalists are accused of supporting Macron. The industrial ownership of most newspapers makes it hard to deny, as business in general supports Macron, except the head of the Medef, Pierre Gattaz, who used to support Fillon.
Thirty different newspapers have joined forces to protest against the fact that the National Front routinely screens journalists before press conferences and meetings. Reporters from Mediapart, Le Monde or TV show Le Quotidien have been banned, some of them violently.
One National Front politician also spoke about creating a special organisation for journalists if they came to power, to deal with what they call “bad habits”. And journalists from Voix du Nord have been repeatedly threatened in the town of Henin-Beaumont whose mayor, Steeve Briois, is a member of the National Front.
On the other side, Macron’s team seems to be tired of Russian fake news. Russia Today and Sputnik journalists have not been allowed to cover its most recent meetings, a ban that is not the most democratic either. – Aline Robert
No justice, no peace. The failure of the Serbian judiciary to make tangible progress in resolving the bulldozing of buildings in Belgrade’s Savamala district brought angry citizens out on the street again on 25 April, a year after the event occurred.
Jihadists in every falafel. Few European cities are as disparaged for their multicultural makeup as much as Malmö. With over 20% of its residents estimated to be Muslim, Malmö is an ideal whipping boy for populists. The reality is something else.
Hang ’em high. At the Women20 Summit in Berlin, female leaders from around the world discussed how to economically empower women on the agenda of a still male-dominated G20 leadership.
Someone still loves us. Bulgarians may not be always happy with their lives, but the country is a democracy in which the rights and freedoms of the citizens were respected, and the EU is an example for the rest of the mankind.
Dictatorship of the proletariat (for real.) Both candidates in the second round of France’s presidential election need the support of the country’s extreme left voters. To win them over, the National Front is highlighting the similarities between their candidate and Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
Time to go. Hundreds gathered in front of the Madrid HQ of the ruling Popular Party (PP) on Tuesday to protest corruption in the wake of revelations of graft by former regional officials. Marchers banged on pots, yelled “the PP is not a party, it’s a gang,” and raised signs bearing messages such as “Your envelope, my cut,” alluding to cash bribes in exchange for government contracts.
The French left lives. The most significant score of the first round of the French election belongs to the Left and marks a historic upheaval, according to Roger Martelli. From Melenchon to Macron, an estimated 58% of voters went for centre-left to left parties, versus Marine Le Pen’s 48%.
The end of Schengen. Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka has urged the EU to extend the country’s border controls indefinitely. Citing security concerns, Sobotka said he “simply needs to know who is coming to our country.”
Moving to Berlin. The head of a Budapest university, pressured by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, appealed to Brussels for help yesterday on Tuesday, a day before the European Commission announces infringement procedures against Hungary, and when Orbán will address MEPs.
Putin means defence spending in Russian. Global expenditure on weapons has risen for the second year in a row. Germany has increased its spending and opposition politicians want a new debate about defence. The issue could become crucial in the end-of-year elections.
Training opportunity for Russian gunners. Two of the US Air Force’s newest and most advanced jets landed in the Baltic state of Estonia for the first time yesterday (25 April), a symbolic gesture meant to reinforce the United States’ commitment to the defence of NATO allies that border Russia.
Iranian-Turkish Union forthcoming. The Council of Europe has voted to reopen its monitoring procedure against Turkey. The decision deals another potentially fatal blow to Ankara’s EU membership hopes, as exiting the process was made a precondition of negotiations back in 2004.
More reasons to learn Spanish. Europe and Brazil will be linked by an undersea fibre optic cable by 2019. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the link symbolises the ties between the two continents.
Neoliberals against fascism. The Italian and Greek governments are counting on France’s likely next president Emmanuel Macron to help them see off populist parties that blame European Union-enforced austerity and open immigration policies for economic and social ills.
She still might win. Politicians on both the right and the left have called on French voters to support Emmanuel Macron in the second round of the presidential election on 7 May. Most see Marine Le Pen’s anti-European programme as a threat to France’s stability.
They can’t be serious. A statement about a potential union between Albania and Kosovo, by Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, has angered officials in Belgrade, who’ve asked Brussels to take a stand on the issue.
Hunger makes you violent. From South America to the Middle East, the effects of climate change appear to exacerbate the problems of organised crime and terrorism.
Blame it on the weather. US research centre Pew reports that religious freedom in Denmark declined significantly between 2007 and 2015, leaving it amongst Europe’s worst 25% of countries. Reasons include anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and the harassment of Christians in asylum centres.
Starvation works. Food rations and stipends will no longer be provided to asylum seekers at the Kiskunhalas refugee camp in southern Hungary.
Dual loyalty fear. Over 100,000 eligible-to-vote Turks live in Austria. It is estimated 10% of those hold ‘illegal’ dual citizenship. Austria’s interior minister wants to take action following Sunday’s Turkish referendum.
No more cheap labour. The president of the Romanian Senate shared his concerns with Frans Timmermans on Thursday about the idea of a ‘two-speed Europe’, insisting the EU should learn from the lessons of the communist period.
Tell them to send coffee. A planned free-trade deal between the EU and South American bloc Mercosur could double Europe’s exports to the region within five years, according to EU sources close to the negotiations.
Eastern block.The Albanian parliament failed to elect a new president on Wednesday after Prime Minister Edi Rama’s governing Socialists decided not to offer a candidate in the first round of voting.
Cheap shot. The National Front’s presidential candidate has made a symbolic scapegoat of the European flag during her campaign. Yet, the flag is not an official symbol under EU law.
Too many neoliberals. A large proportion of French voters have yet to decide who they will back in the first round of the presidential election this Sunday (23 April). Experts see this as an indictment of the candidates’ persuasive powers.
Made in Italy. Starting on Wednesday, Italian dairy product labels will have to show the origin of their ingredients. Italy’s agriculture minister hopes the experiment will be copied by other European countries.
Homeward bound. Moldova has been granted observer status by the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), in another shift towards Moscow following the election of its new pro-Russian president.
Ex-Communists. Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) would like to destroy Donald Tusk, the personal enemy of its leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, according to Roman Imielski.
Take in more refugees. Representatives from 70 countries and organisations at the Brussels Syria donor conference called for lessons to be learned from a chemical weapons attack that left scores dead.
Moscow calling. Germany’s army was targeted 284,000 times by cyber attacks in the first three months of 2017. On Wednesday, the Bundesrepublik’s new cyber defence unit was officially put into action. But its offensive capabilities are already under scrutiny.
Recipe for Islamophobia. The German government is investigating 20 Turkish citizens on suspicion of conducting espionage in Germany, Die Welt reported on Wednesday.
Hatred makes him stronger. A group representing a majority of European Union lawmakers said on Wednesday that they want Parliament to start disciplinary proceedings against Hungary after a crackdown on foreign universities by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
Nowhere to spend it. International donors on Wednesday pledged $6.0 billion in aid for Syria this year at a conference overshadowed by a deadly chemical attack blamed by the West on Damascus.
Tell them to leave. If democracy was the buzzword of the first two decades following the end of the Cold War, Hungary’s breakthrough achievement, illiberal democracy, appears to be the buzzword of today, says Daniel Penev.
Just like old times. Hundreds of people rallied peacefully for a second night in Belgrade on Tuesday to protest against the overwhelming victory of Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić in a presidential election.
Democracy means diversity. Albania’s opposition warned yesterday on Tuesday it might boycott June legislative elections if their demands for fair elections and for Prime Minister Edi Rama to resign are not met.
Double fantasy. European Council President Donald Tusk said in Macedonia yesterday he hopes the country’s leaders will avoid fuelling ethnic tensions and focus on advancing towards EU membership instead.
Don’t invest quite yet. Despite what Syria has become, most Syrian refugees speak longingly about returning to Syria and yearn for the types of jobs – doctors, engineers and teachers – that will be needed to rebuild their country, writes Christine Latif.
Just a matter of time. Russia has developed the capability to launch an attack on the Baltic States with as little as 24 hours’ notice, limiting NATO’s options to respond other than to have military forces already deployed in the region, according to Lithuanian intelligence.
Blowback from Syria. At least 10 people were killed in explosions in two train carriages at metro stations in St. Petersburg on Monday, Russian authorities said.
They must want war. Polish prosecutors said that they would press charges against two Russian air traffic controllers of deliberately causing a 2010 plane crash that killed Poland’s president and 95 other people.
Just say no. Europe’s church leaders want to be more involved in the issues that shape and vex the European Union.
Diminishes the Palestinian problem. Italy, Israel, Greece and Cyprus pledged today (3 April) to move ahead with the world’s longest undersea gas pipeline from the eastern Mediterranean to southern Europe, with support from the European Union.
Socialism works (sometimes.) While the European left is largely struggling where it holds power, Portugal’s government alliance stands out as a remarkable exception. It is raising wages and gaining popularity as well as delivering the lowest budget deficit in living memory.
More reasons to move to Italy. The Italian government said on Monday that dozens of rival tribes in southern Libya had agreed to cooperate on securing the country’s borders in an effort to curb the influx of migrants trying to reach Europe.
Same as it ever was. Armenia’s ruling party was set to win the first elections since the adoption of constitutional reforms transforming the country into a parliamentary republic, according to official results released on Monday.
Just a formality. Conservative Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić won Serbia’s presidential election on Monday by a huge margin, confirming his domination of the Balkan country as he pursues a delicate balancing act between Europe and Russia.
Don’t y’all forget about me. Albanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ditmir Bushati spoke to Georgi Gotev about the tough situation in his country, the so-called ‘Tirana platform’ that’s alarmed Macedonia, Balkan geopolitics and the need for the EU to do more for the six candidate countries.
From Russia with Love. Dogs paid to demonstrate against the government. A deadly nightclub fire ordered by an American billionaire. So-called “fake news” is prospering in Romania and is fuelling Euroscepticism in the Eastern European country.
The Russian Front. The head of the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee warned on Thursday that Moscow is interfering in the French election just as it did in the US presidential campaign last year.
Send them to Afghanistan. Whether it’s the issue of an EU army or common security policy, Austria tends to refer back to its treasured Declaration of Neutrality. But critics are calling for a rethink.
Culture war. Hungary said it will not withdraw new legislation to regulate foreign universities that a Budapest school founded by American philanthropist George Soros says could force it out of the country.
Outsider pose. Martin Schulz is shying away from contact with Angela Merkel in order to fulfil his promise of a fresh start for the Bundesrepublik. The problem is that Schulz’ Social Democrats are part of a coalition government with his opponent.
Ignorant and dangerous. Speaking on Thursday at the annual congress of the European People’s Party (EPP) in Malta, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán fiercely attacked migration, calling it a “Trojan Horse of terrorism.” He also attacked the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
Cheap shot. Krystyna Pawlowicz, a Polish MP from the ruling Eurosceptic PiS party, has written a letter to Jean-Claude Juncker, accusing him of “alcohol dependency”
Driven by fear. Brexit was an extremely unlikely occurrence, Princeton’s Andrew Moravcsik told EURACTIV Slovakia.
Avoiding the problem. The German government on Tuesday endorsed Spain’s position on Catalonian sovereignty and avoided making any comparisons with Scotland’s own push for independence.
Oil or trees? Italy gave the green light for the construction of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), one of the core projects of the Southern Gas Corridor. But activists in the Puglia region protested and asked that the pipeline be moved further north.
Hoping for sponsors. France’s leading presidential candidates on Tuesday aimed to rally business leaders behind their programmes for social reform, increased competitiveness, education and globalisation.
Bought tickets to France. The EU gave Tunisia some €1.3bn in aid after the Arab Spring without properly checking how all of it was spent, according to a report published on Tuesday by the Court of Auditors.
Austerity fisherman. The killing of protected mammals in the Aegean Sea has raised eyebrows in Brussels, which called on the Greek government to punish the culprits.
Bibi doesn’t care. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Monday reiterated the EU’s commitment to a two-state solution and its opposition to Israel’s settlements in Palestine.
Populism is the new normal. Austria’s government will seek an exemption from having to accept more asylum-seekers under an EU relocation system, it said on Tuesday, arguing that it has already taken in its fair share during Europe’s migration crisis.
The blame game. On Saturday, the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee issued a report on the UK’s relations with Turkey, in which the Erdoğan government’s claim that Gülenists masterminded the 15 July coup attempt is debunked.
No surprises here. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party easily won a reelection in the Saarland on Sunday, dealing an early blow to centre-left hopes of ending her more than decade-long reign.
Russians prefer democracy. Police detained hundreds of protesters across Russia on Sunday, including opposition leader Alexei Navalny, after thousands took to the streets to demonstrate against corruption and demand the resignation of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
Wishful thinking.The European Union will disappear, French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen told a rally on Sunday, promising to shield France from globalisation as she sought to fire up her supporters in the final four weeks before the election begins.
Brussels 1, Moscow 0. Former Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov’s GERB party won 32.7% of the votes in the parliamentary election on Sunday, data from the central electoral commission showed today.
Otherwise AfD voters. On Saturday, members of the CDU’s right wing will seek to end what they see as a shift to the left in the German party. Their organisational platform: “Liberal-Conservative Awakening in the Union,” is designed to unite Merkel critics around the country.
Only the elderly need apply. Denmark’s government wants to be able to block unaccompanied refugee children from entering the country if borders are closed due to exceptional circumstances.
Party poopers. The EU has “lost impetus and inspiration”, Italian union leaders said at a Social Europe summit ahead of Saturday’s 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. “We must overcome glaring policy mistakes,” said CISL leader Anna Maria Furlan, also speaking for CGIL and UIL.
Bring back the smoking lounge. On Saturday, members of the CDU’s right wing will seek to end what they see as a shift to the left in the German party. Their organisational platform: “Liberal-Conservative Awakening in the Union,” is designed to unite Merkel critics around the country.
Soon to be accepting refugees department. Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło has indicated she will sign a key declaration on the bloc’s course after Brexit at this weekend’s EU summit in Rome.
Smoke and eat meat. On Saturday, members of the CDU’s right wing will seek to end what they see as a shift to the left in the German party. Their organisational platform: “Liberal-Conservative Awakening in the Union,” is designed to unite Merkel critics around the country.
Bullshit detector: Vladimir Putin has received Marine Le Pen in the Kremlin in a surprise move likely to reignite fears in Europe about Russian support for the European far right.
Good luck. No other illegal business is more lucrative: half a million people smugglers appear in Europol’s database and the number is only rising. The police are now counting on Africa to help.
How mainstream. The anti-establishment Five Star Movement, Italy’s most popular political party, said yesterday that a referendum on the euro was not its top priority and that it hoped Europe would reform before a ballot could be arranged.
Wishful thinking. The Rome Declaration will be balanced and contain strong references to social issues thanks to pressure exerted by the EU’s socialist leaders, Gianni Pittella told Sarantis Michalopolous.
Why don’t they just invade? Ukraine accused Moscow of “state terrorism” after a former Russian lawmaker and key witness in a treason case against former leader Viktor Yanukovich was shot dead in broad daylight outside a hotel in central Kyiv on Thursday.
Destination unknown. EU leaders are going to meet in Rome on Saturday (25 March) to discuss the future of European integration. The Czech Republic is still not sure what to do.
Our man in Belgrade. Serbian presidential candidates are criticising the EU, blaming it for tolerating the authoritarian leanings of the government’s candidate and current Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vučić, in exchange for stability and concessions over Kosovo.
Their own worst enemies. Don’t blame it on ISIS. The London attack was carried out by a British citizen, Prime Minister Theresa May told the House of Commons on Thursday.
The Southern Question (Brussels remix). Italy’s plans to bail out two regional banks pose a dilemma for European regulators, who are still considering whether Monte dei Paschi qualifies for state aid, three months after giving a preliminary green light.
Ireland is everywhere. The Irish government outlined details on Wednesday for a referendum that could give citizens abroad the right to vote in presidential elections, and possibly bring Ireland in line with 23 other EU countries.
Austria for Austrians. Austria’s parliament is set to decide on banning foreign politicians from campaigning on its territory. Under the pending legislation, Turkey’s ruling AKP party would be prohibited from mobilising its supporters in the alpine republic.
Trump said spend the money on defence. Romania’s regional development minister has told the nation’s mayors that there is no more money left for co-financing European projects, since the limit has already been reached and the country is trying to keep its deficit under 3%.
Watch the AfD freak out. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet on Wednesday approved a measure to wipe the criminal records of gay men convicted under a Nazi-era law. The proposal would offer men convicted €3,000 as well as €1,500 for each year they spent in prison.
Capital of neoliberalism. France’s Socialist presidential candidate made the pilgrimage to Brussels on Tuesday to try and drum up support for his EU programme. But, according to Manon Flausch, the Commission remains unconvinced by Benoît Hamon’s plans to democratise eurozone governance.
Trump said spend the money on defence. Romania’s regional development minister has told the nation’s mayors that there is no more money left for co-financing European projects, since the limit has already been reached and the country is trying to keep its deficit under 3%.
Stop destabilising the Middle East. The first anniversary of the Brussels attacks provides a perfect opportunity to reflect on the challenges posed by jihadist radicalisation, according to Alexander Ritzmann and Andrea Frontini.
Get a clue. Macedonia just can’t figure out how to get into the EU or NATO. Whether it’s the conflict with Greece, which has a northern province also called Macedonia, or its inability to fully enfranchise its Albanian minority, the former Yugoslav republic is forever at the door.
Every day, hundreds of refugees enter Serbia. Most of them hope to cross to Hungary and eventually reach the West. But Syrians, Iraqis, and Afghans arrive only to get stuck at the border with Hungary. EURACTIV Romania reports.
Time to go vegan. The EU insisted Brazilian officials attend an emergency meeting on Monday to explain themselves regarding a scandal involving rotten meat and the country’s two largest exporters. Meat producers bribed health inspectors to certify tainted food as safe for consumption.
Ottoman Empire was here. The two main candidates in Bulgaria’s upcoming parliamentary election singled out Turkey on Monday in separate interviews with AFP for what they see as interference in the campaign. Bulgarians will vote in a snap parliamentary election on 26 March.
Heaven help them. A US-led battalion of more than 1,100 soldiers will be deployed in Poland from the start of April, a US commander said today, as the alliance sets up a new force in response to Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.
Must be a Commie. A Czech think tank has slammed Federica Mogherini for spending two years avoiding taking the Russian disinformation threat seriously. The appeal has been signed by high-profile personalities such as Russia’s Gary Kasparov and a former president of Estonia.
Don’t stop believing. The head of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, Michael O’Flaherty, insists that the bloc has not given up on Poland and that Brussels is capable of dealing with the problems that currently face it.
Self-appointed religious leader, part II.Turkey’s president on Thursday accused the EU’s top court of starting a “crusade” against Islam after a ruling allowing European companies to ban employees from wearing religious or political symbols including the Islamic headscarf.
Ring the alarm. The European Commission is still concerned that Romania will go from registering the highest growth in the EU to racking up the biggest budget deficit. But Bucharest insists there is no cause for concern.
Safe European Home. Elias now lives in Sofia, the capital city of Bulgaria – a country that when it first greeted him was not at all prepared to receive and care for the Syrian Kurd and the many others like him.
Europe’s Grand Mufti. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan prompted a fresh outcry in The Netherlands yesterday with a jibe about the Srebrenica massacre, warning of retaliation in a spiralling diplomatic crisis.
Moscow will want a cut. The EU unveiled an ambitious plan on Tuesday to support the reconstruction of war-torn Syria, calling it a “dividend” to encourage warring parties to reach a peace deal.
I will survive. When things got out of hand, Elias left Syria, but not before making sure that his brother – close to enlisting – could also escape. Elias left Syria with only his backpack and set course for Europe. He dreamed of living in Germany or one the Scandinavian states.
Coke adds life. Bolivian President Evo Morales is confident of diffusing tensions with the EU after his country passed a law increasing the amount of coca plant that can be legally cultivated.
Bedtime for democracy. The European Commission highlighted the “serious concerns” expressed by the Council of Europe on Monday over the amendments to the Turkish constitution which are due to be voted on in the 16 April referendum.
Wilders hearts Erdogan. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte clashed with his main rival anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders on Monday, as they laid out starkly opposing visions of their country’s future in an election campaign now consumed by a diplomatic row with Turkey.
Iran circa 1979. Turkey on Monday said it was suspending top-level ties with The Netherlands and blocking the return of its ambassador in a spiralling crisis over the holding of rallies abroad ahead of a crucial referendum.
Working for Geert Wilders. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called the Netherlands a ‘Nazi remnant’ and said the country should face sanctions for barring Turkish ministers from speaking in Rotterdam, fuelling a row over Ankara’s political campaigning abroad.
Soon to join Turkey. Once staunchly pro-EU, Kosovars are losing patience with Brussels, which they accuse of prioritising Serbian accession over their own sovereignty, warns the mayor of Kosovo’s capital, Shpend Ahmeti.
As long as they bring hummus. A year after the borders were sealed, refugees are still using South East Europe to enter the EU. But now the journey is more difficult, expensive and brutal.
Hunter-gatherer society. A political crisis that has paralysed Macedonia for two years is sliding into an ethnic dispute, with nationalists taking to the streets over a series of demands by the country’s Albanians.
Back to the Cold War: Warsaw, which lost a diplomatic campaign to oust its former premier Donald Tusk from his post as European Council president, has now accused the EU of “cheating” and announced a “negative” policy towards Brussels.
Also called propaganda: In the last week, Czech site Aeronet published the following false stories, which went viral: The EU wants to make Le Pen a criminal; The UK will close its borders to EU citizens; and the Democrats are conspiring with Facebook to overthrow Trump by banning fake news.
Only in Italy. A new leftist party has been born. Movimento Arturo was set up by a satirical TV show. In the space of ten days, the ‘party’ has overtaken the Northern League on social media, gained coverage across Italy and set up branches around the country and the world.
Once a banker, always a banker. Benoît Hamon’s proposal of an international treaty between the eurozone countries to increase democratic control of the single currency has raised eyebrows on the left, where such sovereigntist manoeuvring is viewed with suspicion.
Held hostage. Angela Merkel yesterday (9 March) harshly criticised Turkey’s “misplaced Nazi comparisons” ahead of the EU summit but still insisted the refugee deal is important and must stay in place. Criticism is growing in both the German and European parliaments, though.
Falling on deaf ears. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel warned about the danger of a new arms race spiral with Russia on Thursday and called on all sides to work to end the violence in eastern Ukraine as a first step towards broader disarmament efforts.
Angry but powerless. Poland warned fellow European Union leaders on Thursday that their decision to reappoint former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk to chair their summits was a step toward the disintegration of the 28-member bloc.
Late to the game. EU leaders voiced concern yesterday (9 March) about “external influences” fueling division in the Western Balkans, as Britain announced a summit to focus efforts on stabilising a key region vulnerable to Russian meddling.
Democracy is so passé. Civil society is an essential part of any functioning democracy. While Budapest talks of dialogue and free debate, its actions speak of a slide towards authoritarianism, writes Neil Campbell.
Hard to stay excited. Support for EU accession among Serbians is falling, and it may be a result of a loss of confidence in the chances of being admitted, a recent poll by the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP) shows.
Told you so. Curbs on civil liberties, both online and in everyday life, prove to be a “recruiting tool for extremists”, MEPs heard on Wednesday night, at a debate on combatting violent extremism and restoring citizenship.
Gag order. European Parliament Vice-President Ramón Luis Valcárcel (EPP) wants to impose a “tough penalty” on Polish MEP Janusz Korwin-Mikke, whose repeated misogynistic tirades have become an embarrassment to the institution.
Plays well in Ankara.Turkey’s foreign minister accused Germany on Wednesday of hostility towards his country and Islam, while Berlin complained of increased Turkish espionage on German soil as acrimony between the two NATO allies showed no sign of abating.
Redistribute the foie gras. Food quality in Western Europe can differ greatly to what Central and Eastern European shops stock on their shelves. S&D MEP Daciana Sârbu spoke to EURACTIV Romania about the issue and promoting local produce.
So much for the Cold War. Poland’s mainstream parties are increasingly out of tune with voters, according to a new survey. Unsurprisingly, the most popular ones hail from the far right, and, unfortunately, own the youth vote, writes Karolina Zbytniewska.
They just want Russian money. Hungary does not care about the requirements imposed by the European Commission on Paks II, energy analyst András Deák told Pavol Szalai.
Never trust a superpower. The EU must counter the “big lies” coming from countries such as Russia and the United States, which “destabilise” the bloc, European Parliament Vice-President Ramon Luis Valcárcel Siso said in an interview with EURACTIV Spain.
Berlin does it better (at least it thinks so). The German government still wants to set up a European monetary fund but the European Commission does not want to surrender any responsibility for assessing eurozone finances. EURACTIV’s partner Der Tagesspiegel reports.
Blame the Russians. European Union foreign ministers on Monday approved the setting up of a central headquarters for joint EU military missions. As the EU contends with the refugee crisis and rising rightwing populism, the appetite for more defence at European level has escalated.
Long overdue. In an effort to lay the foundations for a progressive alliance, the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) on Tuesday will hold a first ever bureau meeting with the Greens-European Free Alliance (Greens-EFA) group of the European Parliament.
Populist international. The right-wing spiral of Germany’s anti-EU Alternative für Deutschland party (AfD) has brought it shoulder to shoulder with France’s National Front. According to EURACTIV France, the two parties see eye-to-eye on a number of issues, including Russia.
‘Container’ is a curious choice of words. Hungary’s parliament on Tuesday approved the automatic detention of all asylum-seekers in container camps at its borders, sparking “deep concern” at the UN’s refugee agency.
Orbán would agree. The EU’s top court Tuesday ruled that states can deny visas to people trying to claim asylum, in a case related to a Syrian family trying to come to Belgium.
Hungary is glowing. The European Commission cleared the last hurdle on Monday (6 March) for the controversy-plagued Paks II nuclear plant project, despite outstanding concerns about the role of the national regulator and uncertainties over how spent fuel will be managed.
Restating the obvious. The EU warned that the Western Balkans risk becoming a “chessboard” in a game with Moscow, as Britain accused Russia of meddling in the region. Federica Mogherini said there was “profound” concern about a region where historic tensions were coming to a boil again.
Belgrade calling. Democracy is in crisis throughout the EU. But the version taking shape in south-eastern Europe is especially problematic, according to Deutsche Welle. A new form of authoritarianism, mixing nationalism and neoliberalism, is taking shape there, and the EU ought to take the lead in stopping it.
If only they were ISIS. Jordan’s execution of 15 prisoners has provoked “indignation” from Council of Europe leader Pedro Agramunt, who insisted the Arab kingdom remains committed to maintaining a moratorium on the death penalty.
The Kurds would agree. Turkish politicians should be banned from political campaigning across the European Union, Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern said on Sunday (5 March), supporting the decision by some German towns last week to cancel Turkish referendum campaign events.
Not quite, but what did they expect? Bulgarian MEP Peter Kouroumbashev (S&D) has compared ideas for a two-speed EU, advocated by the European Commission, to apartheid, arguing that such projects would ultimately destroy the Union.
So what else is new? Russia accused Albania, NATO and the European Union on Thursday of trying to impose a pro-Albanian government on Macedonia, which is gripped by political crisis.
They have a position. Well, several. In a statement ahead of the Rome Declaration, Strong Europe – Union of Action and Trust – the V4 voice their support for Schengen and the four freedoms, their preference for the EU Council over the Commission, stronger borders and defence, and object to a multi-speed Europe. And they still want German money, too, but not the same social standards.
Doomed to repeat itself. Ten years after the sub-prime mortgage crisis threatened to destroy the global financial system, according to Senator Pierre-Yves Collombat, conditions in France are ripe for another financial crash.
A call to arms. A constitutional amendment would enable Czechs to acquire and possess a gun for security purposes. This is a partial response to the proposed EU Firearms Directive, says EURACTIV Czech Republic’s Aneta Zachová.
She was better on refugees in 2015. Angela Merkel has called the arrest of German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel “disappointing” but will still proceed cautiously in order to not jeopardise the EU-Turkey refugee deal.
Development aid only goes so far. According to EURACTIV Germany, Africa is using the internet more and more, but many governments are employing web blackouts to manipulate voters and silence critics.
No democracy here. The Macedonian crisis deepened this week, as opposition leader Zoran Zaev accused President Gjorge Ivanov of fomenting a “coup d’état” by refusing to allow him to form a new government. Zaev, leader of Macedonia’s Social Democrats, had forged an agreement with the biggest Albanian party over a law backing use of their language.
The Portuguese government is set to introduce new legislation that foresees fines for acts of racism, it announced on Wednesday. Individuals found guilty of racist practices will face a fine of just over 4200 euros, while groups, companies or organisations will be liable to pay damages twice as much.
A group of Danish parties plan to push for a parliamentary deal committing all the country’s pro-European Union parties never to put the country’s EU membership to an in-out referendum. The deal would prevent the eurosceptic Danish People’s Party demanding that either the Liberal or the Social Democrat party hold a referendum as the price of its support after the next election.
Some people believe this stuff. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán claims that “ethnic homogeneity” was vital to the country’s economic success, in a fresh tirade against importing workers to solve labour shortages.
Couldn’t happen to nicer people. Marine Le Pen and the German far-right are suddenly losing votes. But, according to Treffpunkteurope, it remains to be seen how long the strong socialist rise, led by Martin Schulz and Benoît Hamon, will last.
So what else is new? In the current negotiations over a new loan package for Greece, collective bargaining and worker rights have been in the spotlight. But expert opinion in favour of these tools is being ignored by Greece’s lenders, warn Jan Willem Goudriaan and Richard Pond.
Theresa May prefers The Troubles. The Republic of Ireland will suffer greatly from the establishment of a hard border with Ulster to the North. Already, the weak pound has cost its economy dearly.
Teach their children well. Despite threats of fines from the European Union, Slovakia still discriminates against Romani children by placing them in segregated schools.
The growth is real, albeit microscopic. Italy’s gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 0.9% in 2016 compared to the previous year, ISTAT said on Wednesday. The growth rate is a slight increase on the 0.8% registered in 2015. The GDP rise took it just above the level registered in 2000, the agency said.
Illiberal democracy in action: A Hungarian court upheld an earlier decision to convict ten immigrants of participating in a riot during clashes between police and immigrants at the Röszke border crossing in 2015. The court acknowledged that none of the 10 had been violent, but that their presence was enough to convict them.
War is their business. The conflict in eastern Ukraine, which has been going on for the past three years, according to New Eastern Europe, led to not only the creation of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, but above all to the development of a small group of political and military elites in the region.
Support for the far-right AfD party has slipped to single digits. Alternative for Germany has struggled to reunite after a hard-right member’s comments on Germany’s Holocaust guilt. The party has also bled support as the SPD’s Martin Schulz emerged with a bold pledge to defeat their declared enemy, Chancellor Angela Merkel, in the September elections.
File under the ‘Yet to get hit’ department: Even if the Islamic State suffers military defeat this year, Islamist terrorism remains a major threat for Italy, premier Paolo Gentiloni warned on Monday.
A right-wing Polish priest has complained he was “banned from defending Christian children”, after being turned away from the UK at the weekend. The 28-year old Jacek Miedlar was stopped by border officials after landing at Stansted airport, intending to speak at a meeting of the far-right “Britain First” organisation.
Bart Somers is an anomaly: A well-liked Belgian mayor of international standing, who built his reputation on promoting diversity. Somers told EURACTIV Slovakia the secrets of his success, and why tolerance is a positive social value.
A distinguished Arab diplomat remarked that EU politicians and think tank representatives did not make use of keywords such as “Iraq” or “Islam” while discussing the Union’s relations with its neighbours and the refugee crisis for several hours. Georgi Gotev reports from Malta.
A meeting between the Austrian and German foreign ministers in Vienna on Monday revealed where the two countries are aligned and where they aren’t on the same page. Refugees and borders, unsurprisingly, were at the top of the agenda.
The European Council yesterday (27 February) adopted a Commission proposal granting visa liberalisation for Georgia. EURACTIV Germany reports.
The EU on Monday extended its remaining sanctions on Belarus and warned Minsk it would have to make progress on fundamental freedoms to see them lifted. Brussels also piled more sanctions on North Korea after it carried out more missile tests.
Former Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta told an audience in Malta on Monday (27 February) that if the leader of the Front National wins the French elections, it would be “game over” for the EU. But there is a silver lining.
A ban on endocrine disruptors, the end of nuclear power and the suspension of the Lyon-Turin high-speed train line: this is Yannick Jadot’s price for supporting Socialist candidate for the French presidency Benoît Hamon. Euractiv France reports.
It is crucial to explain to voters what the populist agenda is, why it is misleading and how national governments and the EU can respond, writes Ifo President Clemens Fuest.
With the polls narrowing and one of her main rivals embroiled in an expenses scandal, far-right leader Marine Le Pen could feasibly become French president in May, senior politicians and commentators insist.”I think Madame Le Pen could be elected,” former conservative prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said this month. Another former PM, Socialist Manuel Valls, has also warned of the “danger” of assuming that Le Pen cannot win.
Thousands protested in the Romanian capital Bucharest on Sunday against the Social Democrat government, which tried to weaken a crackdown on corruption earlier this month. An estimated 3,000 to 5,000 people gathered outside government headquarters last night demanding the resignation of a government they say they cannot trust.
Greece must not be granted a “bail in” that would involve creditors taking a loss on their loans, Germany’s deputy finance minister said on Sunday, as Athens announced how much gold it has in reserve. Sam Morgan reports.
NGO Reporters Without Borders (RWB) has called on the European Commission to defend press freedom in Poland, after the country fell 29 places in the RWB’s global ranking. EURACTIV’s partner Ouest-France reports.
After ten months, and no judicial progress, EURACTIV Serbia says lawmakers in the European Parliament are discussing the destruction of privately owned buildings in the centre of Belgrade last year.
Moldovan media reports that the country could take advantage of Transnistria’s uncertain future and bring the disputed territory back under its control. But, EURACTIV Romania says that Chișinău’s authorities insist that they would rather remain neutral.
The election of Donald Trump is posing new challenges to the Czech Republic. Local concerns are focused on security and defence, business, and political relations. EURACTIV.cz reports.
Despite signs of rapprochement between the Socialist Benoît Hamon and far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon in recent weeks, according to EURACTIV France, hopes of a political partnership between the two look increasingly fragile.
Corina Crețu is extremely dissatisfied with the performance of the Adriatic-Ionian Strategy. EURACTIV Greece’s Aria Koutra, on the Romanian Commissioner’s criticisms of its implementation, and why she’s not scheduled its next member meeting.
British multinational bank HSBC could transfer 1,000 of its employees from London to Paris within the next two years. Meanwhile, the European Central Bank’s bond-buying programmes continue to impress. EURACTIV’s partner Milano Finanza reports.
In the year since Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) submitted its formal application to join the European Union, little has gone according to plan for the fragile country, according to Sanford Henry.
The European Commission warned Italy on Wednesday it risked disciplinary action if it did not adopt promised measures to cut its deficit.
Fearing a populist surge in this year’s elections, France and Germany won backing from the European Union’s executive on Wednesday for proposals to tighten security across Europe, which include giving more powers to governments to monitor frontiers with other EU states.
According to EURACTIV Germany, many member states are too slow to implement socio-political reforms in crucial sectors like education, according to a new study. Migrants and refugees are particularly effected.
Dutch voters will go to the polls on 15 March to elect their new MPs, in what many observers see as a dry run for the French presidential election one month later. EURACTIV France reports.
An Austrian court on Tuesday approved the extradition of Ukrainian businessman Dmytro Firtash to the United States in a bribery case, overturning an earlier ruling that had said the US request was politically motivated.
The Irish government is scrambling to protect its agriculture industry, which exports almost half its goods to the UK, from the threat of Brexit.
Gerry Adams, leader of Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein, told EURACTIV that any customs posts set up at the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland would mark a return to a hard border 12 years after military checkpoints disappeared between the two countries.
ClientEarth launched legal action against Lombardy, Italy’s most polluted region, today (22 February). The NGO says this could be the first of several Italian suits.
Europe’s top economy Germany should help its EU partners out, the European Commission said on Wednesday, after the Trump Administration attacked Berlin for using the bloc to boost exports unfairly.
Michele Emiliano, the leftist president of the southern region of Puglia, said on Tuesday he would challenge former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi for the leadership of Italy’s ruling Democratic Party (PD), which faces a damaging split.
German officials have proposed that the European Union relax some human rights safeguards so that more asylum seekers can be deported while awaiting the outcome of their cases, according to a working paper seen by Reuters.
Nobody knows who released the substance, but radioactive iodine has been detected across Europe in recent weeks. EURACTIV’s partner Journal de l’Environnement reports.
Martin Schulz has a real chance of becoming Germany’s next chancellor, political consultant Michael Spreng told EURACTIV partner WirtschaftsWoche, as Angela Merkel struggles to inspire her own voters.
According to EURACTIV Germany, the global arms race grew significantly in 2016. Sales shot up by 8.4%, according to a study by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) that compared the last five years with the 2007-2011 period. It called it the highest level since the end of the Cold War.
Turkey’s main pro-Kurdish opposition party said on Monday that it had appealed to the European Court of Human Rights over what it claimed is the unlawful imprisonment of its two leaders on terrorism-related charges.
Poland dismissed on Monday demands that it implement judiciary reforms deemed essential by the European Commission to uphold the rule of law. Poland risks being stripped of its voting rights in the 28-member bloc, while Hungary said it would not support sanctions.
The Eurogroup took a small step on Monday towards the completion of the second review of Greece’s €86 billion rescue programme, placing the emphasis on reforms over austerity to reduce the country’s huge debt pile.
Too long under British rule. Several thousand people took to the streets of Malta on Sunday to protest against a new bill that is expected to force online news sites to register with the government.
Rights are determined by gender. MEPs from the Socialist & Democrats are pushing back against the latest attempts by the right-wing government in Warsaw to clamp down on access to contraception, calling it an “attack on women”.
Making friends everywhere. After meeting with US Vice-President Mike Pence on Sunday, the Belgian prime minister said in a veiled criticism of President Donald Trump’s comments that Belgium, like other countries, would not allow the fragmentation of the European Union.
Bullshit detector. “I never made any (‘Grexit’) threats,” Schäuble told ARD’s Bericht aus Berlin programme just before the network played recent comments in which he said Greece was “not yet over the hill” and the “pressure needed to stay on” Greece or it “couldn’t stay in the currency union”.
The AfD could inadvertently trigger a Schulz victory. Germany’s centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) have moved ahead of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) in an opinion poll by the Emnid institute for the first time since 2006, Bild am Sonntag said on Sunday.
Far be it for Le Pen defend a fellow French candidate from foreign subversion. Suspected Russian cyber attacks on the French presidential campaign are “unacceptable”, France’s foreign minister said on Sunday, adding it was clear that pro-Europe candidate Emmanuel Macron was being targeted.
Lawmakers strongly voted in favour of new anti-terror legislation on Thursday, in a move to prevent further attacks as the ones carried out in Paris and Brussels in the past two years
Bulgaria’s new interim government has found that over half the defence procurement contracts signed last year were irregular and is examining nine of them on suspicion of fraud, its prime minister said Friday.
France and Germany consider the US position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict confusing. It risks ending the prospect of a two-state solution and fueling conflict in the region, the two leading EU countries said Thursday.
The European Commission on Thursday welcomed as a “very good step” the decision of the Romanian government to repeal a decree that would have decriminalised graft, and offered Bucharest assistance and funds to improve the country’s prisons.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said on Friday the European Union must take on a bigger international role, saying the answer to crises from security to climate change was to stop relying on the United States.
European Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis is wary of US moves to deregulate the banking sector. But he was positive about Greece’s fiscal adjustment, and called on Athens and its lenders to break the stalemate on the country’s bailout programme.
The United States and Russia may be on the verge of a new arms race in Europe, decades after the missile crisis that shook the continent in the waning years of the Soviet Union.
There is hope, yet. According to the Budapest Beacon, the Hungarian Socialist Party’s presumptive nominee for prime minister, László Botka, is within two points of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in a poll published on Thursday. The poll found that Botka is viewed favourably by 44% of Hungarians compared to 46% for Orbán.
You can just feel the love. Geert Wilders kicked off his election campaign with a predictably anti-immigrant message. Debuting a new campaign advert on Thursday, the video warns of the dangers of Muslim immigration, and concludes with the slogan “The Netherlands is ours again.”
The war was awful and France lost. Presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron described colonisation as a “crime against humanity” during a visit to Algeria this week, sparking outrage among conservative and far-right parties. Macron was promptly condemned by the Nation Front VP Florian Philippot, and the scandal-wracked François Fillon.
On his first visit to Brussels, newly-elected Prime Minister of Lithuania Saulius Skvernelis shared his fears with Euractiv.com about the building of a nuclear plant in Belarus, 40 km from Vilnius and of the hybrid war waged by Russia against the former Soviet republic.
In the Visegrád Group, there is a desire to both strengthen the powers of member states, but also defend the Schengen area, and the four freedoms. Unsurprisingly, talk of treaty change is in the air. Euractiv’s Central European partners report.
On Wednesday, Montenegro’s chief prosecutor instructed his special prosecutor not to arrest two opposition MPs, although the parliament stripped them of their immunity on charges of having participated in the plotting of a coup d’état. The move seems to be intended to defuse an explosive situation that may turn into civil war, writes Georgi Gotev.
Burning the EU flag not a crime. A court in Bratislava acquitted extremist Marián Mišún of charges in the case of burning a flag of the European Union in front of the Bratislava Castle in 2012, claiming he did not commit a crime. The deed can be qualified only as an offence.
A school in Rome has rescinded its plans to hold a fascist era-themed ball after parents complained. “It was a terrible idea,” said Fabrizio de Sanctis, president of Rome’s branch of Anpi, the national partisans’ association. Flyers for the ‘Grand Fascist-Era Ball’ promised music from the period of Benito Mussolini’s rule, as well as decorations and photos from the time.
Read the fine print. One in three Slovaks knew that the country held its first rotating presidency in the Council last fall. But, according to a survey, the rest were either unclear, or didn’t know about it. Euractiv Slovakia reports.
Condoms are for everybody. The medical community is concerned about the growing number of abortions in Greece, as well as a lack of sex education among teenagers.
Serbia’s ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) decided on Tuesday to nominate Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić as its candidate for the country’s presidency. The election is expected to take place in April, and the results are unlikely to be surprising.
He just might win. Campaigning for the Dutch election kicked off today with xenophobic leader Geert Wilders frontrunner in a vote that will test the strength of the populist sentiment that helped push Britain out of the European Union, and usher in Donald Trump to the White House.
Relations between Serbia and Kosovo may seem tense. But, according to Euractiv Serbia, a new poll by an NGO shows that an overwhelming majority of Serbians wouldn’t support armed conflict in order to reclaim the province, which unilaterally declared independence in 2008.
The ‘No’ vote in the Swiss referendum on tax reform was a big defeat for the government. Pressure from trading partners and big businesses will force Bern to come up with a new proposal, and fast. Euractiv’s partner La Tribune reports.
Former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi called for a leadership contest in his ruling Democratic Party on Monday, opening the way for a showdown with his many enemies in the PD ahead of approaching national elections.
French presidential favourite Emmanuel Macron is being targeted by Russian media and internet attacks from within Russia with the goal of helping the election campaigns of his pro-Moscow rivals, Macron’s party chief said on Monday.
Washington’s annual message to Serbia to mark its national day made no mention of the country’s bid to join the EU, which the US has previously supported. The wording of the statement underlines the extent to which the Trump Administration has moved on from its predecessor’s support for the European Union.
A Montenegro prosecutor received approval on Monday to strip two opposition leaders of parliamentary immunity who are targeted in the investigation of an alleged coup attempt on 16 October, when general elections were held in the Balkan country.
Germany will move forward this week with plans to set up a joint fleet of Lockheed Martin C-130J transport planes with France and join a Netherlands-led fleet of Airbus A330 tanker planes, defence ministry sources said on Monday.
Chancellor Christian Kern defended Austria’s push for a law to prevent social dumping from poorer EU countries after a meeting with Jean-Claude Juncker where Austria’s demand for childcare benefit cuts for EU foreigners took centre stage. Catherine Stoop reports from Brussels.
On New Year’s Eve, police were bolstered in Cologne and more than one hundred North African men were rounded up, in an effort to prevent a repeat of the 2015 attacks in the citiy. Critics say this was nothing short of racial profiling, reports Euractiv Germany.
President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani (EPP) told Euractiv Spain that austerity policies must go hand-in-hand with growth and that the United Kingdom will not be “an enemy” of the EU after Brexit.
Just call it anti-Semitism. In the annual State of the Union address on Friday, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán listed among those who “attacked” his country billionaire George Soros and the European Union.
Racist Dutch politician Geert Wilders said on Sunday that promises by other parties not to work with him would be quickly forgotten if, as expected, his far-right Party of Freedom gets more than 30 parliamentary seats in next month’s election.
More obstacles to Kosovo’s accession: Calling their dead “second-class victims”, Serbian families of civilians killed by Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian rebels in the late 1990s hope a new court at The Hague will finally bring them justice.
AfD, watch out. Billed as Germany’s “anti-Trump”, former foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was elected on Sunday as the new head of state, vowing to stand up to simplistic populist rhetoric.
It really is a revolution. Tens of thousands of Romanians braved the cold and returned to the streets in protest on Sunday, calling on the government to resign as they accused it of attempting to water down anti-corruption laws.
In a carefully-worded rebuke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Jarosław Kaczyński, the powerful head of Poland’s far-right ruling party, warned that any moves toward a two-speed European Union would lead to the bloc falling apart.
Spain’s prime minister told US President Donald Trump that he would be the ideal point of contact for the United States in Europe and Latin America, as well as for providing a bridge between the US and North Africa, as well as the Middle East. Euractiv Spain reports.
Bulgarians will vote on 26 March in snap general elections. Georgi Gotev unpacks the poll through the eyes of a party leader who is hoping to pass the 4% threshold and win seats in the 240-member National Assembly.
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis yesterday (7 February) rebuked the government for doing “too little” to resolve the crisis rocking the country over a corruption decree, but stopped short of calling for its resignation.
Visiting Warsaw on Tuesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is said to have won promises of closer cooperation from Poland’s Eurosceptic leaders, to discuss reforms essential for the EU to tackle mounting divisions over its future role.
Pro-Russian President of Moldova Igor Dodon yesterday (7 February) warned NATO that the closer ties it seeks with his strategically placed country could undermine its neutrality and threaten its security.
Britain’s exit from the EU could slow down Europe’s economic growth. However, according to Aktuálně, unemployment forecasts remain positive. The latest Eurostat figures show that the number of jobless has been steadily declining.
Russia and Belarus remained allies after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but their relationship has soured lately. The main point of contention appears to be energy supply and a border dispute. Euractiv Germany reports.
Buoyed by a bump in the polls, Martin Schulz will run against Angela Merkel in the fall. Do Germans think his increase in popularity is for real? Euractiv’s partner Der Tagesspiegel weighs his chances.
Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, the two front-runners in the French presidential race, both chose Lyon to officially launch their presidential campaigns at the weekend (4 February). Europe emerged as the central issue in the race to the Elysée Palace. Euractiv France reports.
The mass demonstrations that have swept Romania since 29 January have kicked off a social insurrection, the likes of which has not been seen since the overthrow of communism in Eastern Europe in 1989, Octavian Milewski told Euractiv Poland.
Six of Germany’s 16 Bundesländer have suspended deportations of failed asylum seekers to Afghanistan, according to media reports. Recently declared a “safe” country by the federal government, the message being sent to Berlin is loud and clear.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is in Warsaw today (7 February) in a bid to reignite Berlin’s ties with Poland, which have been frayed in recent months as Poland’s far-right government has pursued a populist political program, comparable to that of Hungary.
EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday agreed to improve conditions for migrants stuck in detention centres in strife-torn Libya, in the wake of last week’s Valletta summit. According to Matthew Tempest, the ministers made a point of condemning the abuse of migrants.
Compared to 2015, the number of refugees who tried to enter the European Union last year decreased significantly. Aktuálně reports.
Despite a wave of similar grassroots anti-government protests elsewhere, particularly in the US, the roots of the present wave of protests in Romania lie in the political and economic failures of the country’s post-communist transition, writes Bogdan Enache.
On 2 February, the European Parliament approved measures to protect European banana producers against increasing competition from imports from Ecuador; a result of the country’s accession to the EU’s trade deal with Colombia and Peru. Euractiv Spain reports.
In Romania, politicians were preparing to legalise political corruption, and elsewhere the misuse of EU funds makes headlines every day. Sandor Lederer asks why the Commission decided not to release an in-depth anti-corruption report.
Lasting peace is nearly within striking distance in Colombia. But now, according to Euractiv Spain, the question about what to do with the former child soldiers of the FARC guerrilla group has been raised. The EU thinks it should be a priority.
The hashtag sendherbackwhereyougotherfrom was trending on Twitter Friday, as Italy’s Five Star Movement reeled from a fresh scandal to hit Rome Mayor, Virginia Raggi. On Thursday, Raggi denied knowing that her former cabinet chief, Salvatore Romeo, took out a 30,000 euro insurance policy in her name 6 months before she hired him and tripled his salary.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel paid a visit to Turkey today, where President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan admonished about using the expression “Islamist terror.” “The ‘Islamist terror’ expression gravely saddens us as Muslims,” said Erdoğan. “Such an expression cannot be used; it is not right because Islam and terror don’t go side by side.” Tell that ISIS, not Merkel.
Poland is being made great again, rising from its knees. America first, Poland second. So, logically, it needs a great capital city. And as its government moves effectively from word to deeds, a proper legal act has been proposed by the Law and Justice (PiS) party, writes Karolina Zbytniewska.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán cemented closer ties at talks yesterday (2 February), amid growing EU rifts over sanctions against Moscow because of its meddling in Ukraine. Experts said Trump’s ascendancy and the wave of populism sweeping across Europe is emboldening the two strongmen to push harder against the EU.
The Austrian government’s planned ban on full-face veils has naturally encountered resistance. But it’s not the only religious symbol that is coming under scrutiny, as the display of crucifixes in kindergartens and schools also faces fresh debate. Euractiv Germany reports.
Marine Le Pen just got the biggest shot in the arm yet. As the investigation continues into allegations that François Fillon fraudulently employed his wife and children, the French presidential candidate is choosing to brush the issue aside and continue his campaign.
Putin couldn’t have scripted it better. Twenty-seven years after the end of communism, Romanians had taken to the streets again, this time, to protest against a democratically elected government in the European Union. Friday (3 February), in the second edition of the Trans-Europe Express newsletter.
The Russians will fire a few more missiles (so to speak) at the Ukraine, and Syria, for this. On Thursday, the European Parliament decided to lift the visa regime with Georgia, which means that Georgians will be able to enter Schengen without a visa for short stays.
It’d be a populist dream come true. On Thursday, Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan told the Senate that if the Commission opens an infringement procedure against Italy, it’d entail a reduction of sovereignty in economic policy, higher costs for public finances, and an increase in interest rates. If elections are held this summer, 5 Star is guaranteed its first government.
The European Commission thinks Serbia is doing an excellent job taking care of the 7000 or so migrants and refugees currently on its territory. But, as EURACTIV Serbia reports, the asylum seekers aren’t exactly living a life of luxury.
Not everyone in Europe hates Donald Trump. The Poles sort of like him, the Slovaks think he’s allright, and the Czechs and Hungarians are positively enthusiastic. EURACTIV’s Central European partners report.
The Russians are determined to go recover their pre-’89 properties. President Vladimir Putin will hold talks with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in Budapest on Thursday, as the Kremlin looks to widen cracks in the EU over sanctions.
Will the government respond like Ceaucescu? Hundreds of thousands of people hit the streets across Romania on Wednesday to protest the government’s decriminalising of a string of corruption offences, the largest demonstrations since the fall of communism in 1989.
Czech and Slovak delegations to the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) recently presented a joint opinion on the future of cohesion policy after 2020, in which they set out seven common principles and priorities for the next programming period. Their message is simple: regions bind Europe together.
The lure of authoritarianism is still strong: European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and First Vice-President Frans Timmermans issued a stern warning on Wednesday after the Romanian government issued an emergency decree reducing penalties for corruption, allowing several politicians to avoid criminal prosecution.
Romanian businessman and one-time MP Sebastian Ghita has been named on Europol’s most wanted fugitive list in relation to a number of high-profile corruption cases, one of which involves former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair. EURACTIV Romania reports.
Ecuador has long been a beacon of hope for leftists in Latin America, disenchanted with the decline of democracy in Venezuela, and the corruption scandals which brought down Lula’s government in Brasil. Longtime leader Rafael Correa tells EFE that despite such disappointments, nevertheless, leftist politics will soon “sweep across the continent”.
As if cruise control isn’t enough, according to EURACTIV Germany, the European Commission is considering introducing automatic braking systems on all new cars in an effort to reduce the number of road deaths. The problem is, of course, like its predecessor, using it is optional.
A French tax credit, the CICE, is boosting competitiveness at a crucial time for the country’s economy, as businesses have begun to reclaim their profit margins for the first time in years. But France continues to see its share of the eurozone market decline, according to EURACTIV’s media partner, La Tribune.
If only Macedonia could get its (democratic) act together. Plagued by corruption, nationalism, and the authoritarian tendencies typical of post-Communist states, it also wants to be a part of the EU. But it can’t even recognise the linguistic rights of its Albanian population, which makes up over a quarter of the country.
Afflicted by earthquakes and the ongoing refugee crisis, the European Commission wants the Italian government to reduce its deficit, which currently stands at 2.3% of GDP, by 0.2% (€3.4 billion). But Rome wants to increase its deficit 0.4% in order to pay for emergency measures and reconstruction projects. Milano Finanza reports.
Even the populist-leaning Danish government has its limits. “The US decision not to allow entry of people from certain countries is NOT fair. Meet every man/woman as an individual,” the country’s Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen tweeted on Sunday.
By emphasising stability above all else, the EU risks aligning itself with increasingly illiberal and authoritarian regimes in the Western Balkans, argues Arlind Puka.
After a surprise first-round victory, Benoît Hamon took the second round of France’s Socialist primary by a comfortable margin. According to EURACTIV.fr’s Adrien Valbray, the leftist rebel and former minister for education beat ex-premier Manuel Valls in Sunday’s run-off by 58% to 41%.
No surprises here: Czech President Miloš Zeman has come out in support of Donald Trump’s refugee policy. EURACTIV Germany reports.
“Bulgaria’s choice of the EU and NATO is strategic and should not be called into question,” the country’s new President, Rumen Radev, told EURACTIV.com’s Georgi Gotev in an exclusive interview as he arrives in Brussels today for his first visit abroad.
The refugee problem won’t go away. No matter how hard populists try to put up walls and seal off borders, they keep on coming. The surge is understandable after nearly two decades of non-stop war in the Middle East and West Asia. It seems half the world is looking for a new home. Friday, in the first official edition of the Trans-Europe Express newsletter.
From Syria to an integration centre and finally to a new home in Prague – that’s what a story of a refugee may look like. But life for Arabs in the central European country also has its dark sides. EURACTIV Czech Republic reports.
The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo agreed to continue talking at a 24 January meeting in Brussels hosted by Federica Mogherini. The EU foreign policy chief said that the normalisation of relations was vital for the two countries. But, reports EURACTIV Serbia, her guests only succeeded in antagonising each other.
Martin Schulz is known in Germany mainly as a European politician and an ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel. But, later this year, they will face off in a national leadership race. EURACTIV’s partner Der Tagesspiegel reports.
Greek politicians reacted strongly to a video published on Wednesday showing the newly-elected President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, calling the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia “Macedonia.” The outrage is understandable, writes EURACTIV Greece.
Extreme climate events cost Europe €400 billion between 1980 and 2013, a report by the European Environment Agency has found. And the cost is rising. EURACTIV’s partner Journal de l’Environnement reports.
Could Irish voters block a future deal to withdraw Britain from the EU in a referendum? With the clock counting down to the commencement of the two-year Brexit process, according to the IrishTimes, the project could be derailed, by a vote of the Irish people.
The European Commission has released its latest report on Romania’s progress under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism, which puts its judicial system under close surveillance for potential corruption and organised crime. The executive is encouraged, writes EURACTIV Romania.
As France’s presidential election gets closer, EURACTIV France writes that NGOs have asked the candidates to put development policies at the heart of their foreign policy proposals.
According to Radio Poland, President Andrzej Duda has said that the country’s constitution defines marriage as between a man and a woman and that his hard right Law and Justice party is unlikely to change that. Poland’s constitution is one of seven in the EU to ban gay marriage, and the country is one of six in the bloc not to allow same-sex civil unions.
Rome mayor Virginia Raggi said on Tuesday she had been summoned for questioning by anti-corruption prosecutors. Last month, Raggi’s Five Star Movement (M5S) stripped her of the power to make “important decisions”. Once considered a potential party leader, Raggi’s days are numbered. The Local.it reports.
Instead of punishing member states that refuse to accept refugees, there could be improved compensation for those that accept them, and manage their resettlement, Dr Giacomo Benedetto told EURACTIV Slovakia in a wide-ranging interview.
Benoît Hamon’s late entry into the French presidential race has added another intriguing player to the equation. EURACTIV’s partner Journal de l’Environnement takes a look at Hamon and fellow Socialist candidate Manuel Valls, in terms of their environmental credentials.
According to EURACTIV Germany, the European Commission has remained silent over the rearing of pregnant horses for their blood, to harvest a hormone used in veterinary products.
An ALDE MEP has accused Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont of using “lies” and “propaganda” to organise a conference at the European Parliament on Tuesday, on the planned independence referendum. EURACTIV Spain reports.
Over a two week period, the World Customs Organisation (WCO) seized 113 million antimalarial, anti-inflammatory and antibiotic tablets bound for Africa. According to EURACTIV France, the actual extent of the problem remains unknown.
A new development fund in northern Greece aims to boost SMEs’ role in the local economy, and ensure greater transparency, the governor of Western Macedonia told EURACTIV Greece.
On Sunday, Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) will nominate its candidate to face Angela Merkel in the September election. EURACTIV’s partner Der Tagesspiegel reports.
If Berlin wants to meet its Paris Agreement obligations, it must start phasing out coal by the end of the decade, according to a major new study by the WWF. EURACTIV Germany reports.
The Russians are everywhere, or so the Americans would have you believe, in the aftermath of their controversial 2016 presidential elections. Not just in the US, of course, but Europe, although perhaps a little more obviously.
Never mind the reception centres. Refugees need to be brought in from the cold, and the EU must follow through with its redistribution programme, according to Luxembourg’s foreign minister, Jean Asselborn. EURACTIV’s partner Der Tagesspiegel reports.
Washington introduced sanctions against Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik on Tuesday. The nationalist called the Obama initiative vindictive, while the US said that Dodik has been obstructing the Dayton Accords, according to EURACTIV Serbia.
In another expression of German dissatisfaction with the IMF, SPD Deputy Chairman Carsten Schneider told the Suddeutsche Zeitung that the International Monetary Fund’s participation in the Greek bailout is not necessary. EURACTIV Greece reports.
No SNP fans here: Baroness Dianne Hayter, the UK Labour Party’s Shadow Brexit spokeswoman, told EURACTIV Slovakia that Nicola Sturgeon is playing “an irresponsible game, asking the impossible to get the excuse to have another referendum,” to protest Brexit.
Is Momentum Hungary’s next opposition? It’s not a political party – yet – but it is beginning to resemble one. Hungarian Spectrum talks to two of its founders, András Fekete-Győr and Anna Orosz, about the group, and its progressive agenda.
Social equality is the new black, according to Sweden’s Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson, who made the remark at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday where she spoke alongside Swedish PM Stefan Löfven. The Local.se reports.
Guy Verhofstadt’s support dragged Italian conservative Antonio Tajani over the line in the European Parliament’s presidential election on Wednesday. This is a dark signal for a Europe in crisis. EURACTIV’s partner La Tribune reports.
Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev, whose term expires on Sunday, warned in his last speech this week that the country may lose its EU presidency “if it contributes to the division of the Union”. EURACTIV.com reports, in partnership with Dnevnik.
Are the Baltics next? On Tuesday, the United States and Lithuania signed a mutual defence pact, making permanent the stationing of US forces in the country, who will serve as a deterrent against a potential Russian invasion. The Baltic Times reports.
In November, the European Commission launched legal proceedings against Germany, accusing it of elevated nitrate levels. It’s not the first time that the German government has been at odds with the EU about its agricultural policy. Introducing EURACTIV.de’s new Vice-Versa series.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has told the presidents of Spain’s autonomous communities that improving the country’s welfare state could be possible but will depend entirely on getting back to pre-crisis levels. EURACTIV Spain reports.
Moldova is plagued by corruption and bad governance. Economic growth has logically inhibited by the constraints this places on public finances. The European Commission announced on Monday that it will give Chisinau €100 million get things right, according to EURACTIV Romania.
If the next French president does not give the French people a firm view of France’s position in Europe, and shape the Europe that they want, history will pass France by, Commissioner Pierre Moscovici told EURACTIV partner Ouest-France.
Günther Oettinger is leading the EU’s copyright reform efforts. In an interview with EURACTIV Germany, Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda warned this would threaten online news publications and benefit fake news sites at the expense of journalists and indie publishers.