Friday

18th Oct 2019

Europe's empty fortress

It is too easy only to criticise the rightists and their fixation with barbed wire, Trump for his wall on the border with Mexico, Orban for his xenophobia.

News in Brief

  1. Macron: Nato's inability to react to Turkey a 'mistake'
  2. EU: US can expect counter measures after tariff move
  3. Almost 7,500 people forcibly returned to Libya in 2019
  4. Puigdemont released after responding to arrest warrant
  5. Commission: Facebook's Libra needs international approach
  6. Italian PM: denial of accession talks a 'historic mistake'
  7. Catalan president blames clashes on 'infiltrators'
  8. US imposes €6.7bn new tariffs on European products

Defending the defenders: ombudsmen need support

Ombudsmen are often coming under attack or facing different kinds of challenges. These can include threats, legal action, reprisals, budget cuts or a limitation of their mandate.

Column

The benefits of being unpopular

Paradoxically, the lack of popularity may be part of the strength of the European project. Citizens may not be super-enthusiastic about the EU, but when emotions run too high in politics, hotheads may take over.

Brexit snap election might plumb further chaos

Tuesday will go down as one of the most dramatic days in British parliamentary history. After just weeks in power, Boris Johnson now wants a snap Brexit election - but will the Labour opposition let him?

Column

These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.

Why I'm voting against the von der Leyen commission

The new migration commissioner's job title, "Protecting our European way of life", rings not of pan-European solidarity or federalism - but is incorporated from the playbook of the extreme right.

Catalonia shows dangers of jail terms for non-violence

Time and again, across the world, efforts to "decapitate" non-violent movements, and refusals to engage in political dialogue with them, have led to situations like we are seeing today in Catalonia.

Polish election: analysing why PiS won

Support for democracy was particularly low in Poland with only 19 percent consistently supporting democracy - only Hungary and Bulgaria scored lower.

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Threat to Unesco park mars Montenegro's EU bid

The site contains Europe's second largest natural pasture and hundreds of local families depend on it, but part of it has been slated to become a military training ground.

New Dutch terror bill must not target aid workers

A controversial counterterrorism bill could end up criminalising aid workers in the Netherlands if they enter conflict hotspots when assisting the world's most vulnerable people.

Let girls own the future

While our politics is dominated by old and bullying alpha males and the negativity they have injected into our times, there is at least one day of hope - and it is through unleashing the power of young girls.

Column

Habsburg lessons for Europe's foreign policy

The EU is facing similar challenges. Like the Habsburgs, it must work out ways to navigate an increasingly messy geo-political map and stand firm without the advantage of military predominance.

Are commissioner grillings going too far?

In these commissioner hearings politics and the law are very close to one another. The temptation to use legal rules and procedures for political ends is real and present.

Passing the baton: will Borrell buck the anti-rights trend?

As Josep Borrell faces questions from MEPs, a report from Amnesty International finds the EU's commitment to protect and support human rights defenders in its foreign policy is not consistently upheld - not between nor even within countries.

Greece needs to face reality about asylum seekers

What Greece needs is for its new government to have the courage to say what everyone knows needs to happen - namely that the large-scale returns to Turkey are off the table and that the island containment policy is unsustainable.

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Can Schinas put EU values back into migration brief?

Margaritas Schinas at his hearing before MEPs on Thursday has an opportunity to put the core values of the EU – peace, sustainable development and human rights – back at the heart of EU migration policy.

Tough questions for new EU 'development' commissioner

While much ink has been spilled on the naming of the new migration "European Way of Life" commissioner, another shift has gone largely unnoticed - the new European Commission will no longer include a commissioner for "Development".

Malta must act quickly to avoid blacklisting

Some EU member states' law-enforcement agencies are incapable of mounting even basic financial crime enquiries - especially Malta, where allegations of personal and political corruption continue to propagate, and an investigative journalist has been assassinated.

Tough questions for Dalli and Suica on gender rights

Helena Dall's biggest challenge as equality commissioner will be securing EU accession to the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, while Dubravka Suica as demography commissioner must reassure on abortion and contraceptives.

Revival of hope for EU-Israel ties after elections?

Detaching the Netanyahu-era alliance with Hungary's Viktor Orban and other illiberal regimes in Europe will serve both EU unity and Israel's integrity. Scraping the deal with Poland to rewrite the history of Second World War falls under the same category.

Blocking Brexit will boost the far-right

Mainstream British politicians have a responsibility to find ways how to counter the growing far-right extremist threat. Overturning Brexit will only serve to intensify it.

Dismiss Italy's Salvini at your peril

Matteo Salvini's recent gambit may have failed, but, in his own words: "From today you will find me even more pissed off and determined. I will go from town to town and we will take this country back."

Brexit raises questions for EU defence integration

Brussels' current vision for cooperation on defence, where third countries can contribute but have no say in decision-making and in the guidance of operations, is unlikely to be attractive to the UK.

Europe's refugee policy is test of its true 'way of life'

As ex-national leaders, we know it's not easy to withstand public pressures and put collective interests ahead of domestic concerns. But without strong institutional leadership, EU values themselves risk ringing hollow, not least to those seeking protection on Europe's shores.

A new Commission for the one percent

We are only baffled by how nakedly Ursula von der Leyen's commission represents the very crisis affecting the EU. These commission nominees can expect their toughest questioning yet, they must be held accountable to those they should be representing.

How EU trains discriminate against the disabled

EU law requires us to give two days' notice to get the assistance we need, even for our daily commutes. We can't travel like everyone else. It is frustrating, annoying and time-consuming. In short, it is unacceptable.

How EU firms and banks help fund Amazon fires

Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas, Blackrock, and Vanguard collectively own more than $1.1bn in debt in the three largest soy, and the three largest cattle companies, and own $6bn worth of shares in these companies.

Amazon fires mean EP must rethink Mercosur trade deal

The European parliament debates on Tuesday the fires in the Amazon region. "It goes without saying that, in light of the gravity of the situation, Europe will need to renegotiate the Mercosur agreement", writes MEP Kathleen Van Brempt.

EU must give full support to Ukraine to dissuade Kremlin

With Donald Trump unable to fill the US's traditional role of standing up to authoritarian regimes - and his inner circle even putting pressure on Kiev to investigate the Democratic frontrunner, Joe Biden - Europe should take a harder line.

Stakeholders' Highlights

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  8. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
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