Saturday

4th Feb 2023

Editorial

Editor's weekly digest — Saturday 17 September

  • (Photo: European Parliament)
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What a week this has been.

The Queen of England died as my house caught on fire. Ukraine started a startlingly successful counterattack on Russian occupiers. Sweden elected a rightwing government. Hungary is no longer considered a democracy by the European Parliament. A new secretary-general appointment was rushed through. Spain's rule of law is under scrutiny. Fighting has once again flared up between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

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And all of that happening under the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, a war on mainland Europe, a global pandemic, energy prices soaring, increasing authoritarianism, felt consequences of climate change, rising inequality and historic levels of inflation.

Everybody believes the time they live in is of great importance for history, but in our case, that might just be true.

This was my second week as newly appointed editor-in-chief of EUobserver. It was overwhelming. I am absolutely humbled by the expertise, knowledge and experience of the team I'll be working with — and grateful for their patience with my relative ignorance on European affairs, a luxury I hope you, our readers, will afford me as well.

Times of turmoil are fertile times for change. In the coming months we will be experimenting with new formats (like this one!), new features and new ways of reaching new audiences — while honouring the foundations that EUobserver has thrived on over the past two decades.

Expect to read more background on the important and complex events that will unfold over the coming months (and possibly determine the future of the European Union), more insight into how we create news and more value for our members, who are so crucial for us to do what we do.

Which also leads me to a request: I'm curious to hear what you think we do well, but even more so about what we could do better, what we should do more of, and how we can help you in your personal or professional life. My DMs are open on Twitter, my email is at@euobserver.com, and any adept Googler can find my phone number. I'd love to hear from you.

As an independent non-profit, EUobserver has had and will be in a unique position to impartially cover EU affairs and their consequences for citizens everywhere. I'm over the moon to have the privilege to be a part of it.

Onwards with the week. Here are six articles you should not have missed.

Europe's democratic guardian Tiny Kox denies Russia spy links

An investigation by the Dossier Center, a London-based NGO, has revealed damning links between Dutch senator Tiny Kox — president of European democratic watchdog PACE — and Russian intelligence. Kox denies the allegations, both to EUobserver's Andrew Rettman and in a right of reply we also published.

'Rushed' EP secretary-general pick sparks legal complaint

Alessandro Chiocchetti, Roberta Metsola's head of cabinet, was controversially picked as secretary-general late Monday evening. The selection has been characterised as a "case of institutional corruption," with a complaint being filed with the EU ombudsman. We'll be continuing coverage on the issue, but don't skip Eszter Zalan's excellent explainer on the selection procedure and where it has been found lacking.

Striking EU parliament interpreters want president to weigh in

The saga of striking EU Parliament interpreters continues, with the parliament's directorate-general personnel threatening to register those who refuse to work with remote interpretation. While this might seem like a minor issue, interpreters play an absolutely essential role in the smooth functioning of the parliament — especially if they decide to turn the thumbscrews by refusing all interpretation.

'We need different tools to deal with inflation'

Implementing price controls in an attempt to fight inflation was called "beyond stupid," by Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman earlier this year. But the tide seems to be turning. Wester van Gaal interviewed German political economist Isabella Weber, who floated the idea that sparked Krugman's outrage in a Guardian column last year. Read the interview here.

Poland snubs EU Parliament's spyware probe

Polish government authorities decided to simply not show up for a European Parliament probe into Israeli spyware Pegasus, after being accused of using it on opposition politicians and prosecutors. The snub will likely remain without consequence, as the parliament lacks means of enforcing cooperation. Nikolaj Nielsen is on the case, and will be covering the resulting report.

How to respond, if Moscow now offers peace talks

In his monthly column, Michael Meyer-Resende argues his view that if Moscow should offer peace talks, Europe should be ready with a unified response to prevent Russia from fracturing the already fragile European front.

See you next week (or in my DMs),

Alejandro Tauber

Spain under EU fire for non-functioning judiciary

Spain must renew the country's top judicial body, European Commission vice-president Věra Jourová has warned — after the president of the National Council for the Judiciary threatened to resign.

Testimony from son rocks trial of ex-Czech PM Babiš

In a fraud trial relating to €2m in EU subsidies, Andrej Babiš son testified his signature on share-transfer agreements was forged. He claims his father transferred the shares to him without his knowledge, making him a front man for scheme.

The stories you should have read in 2022

I won't bore you with platitudes about what a momentous year this has been, you'll probably have enough of those conversations tomorrow at your New Year's Eve. So here are our favourite stories of the year, in no particular order.

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