Thursday

21st Jan 2021

News in Brief

  1. First migrant tragedy of 2021 claims 43 lives
  2. Train revival needed to meet EU climate goals
  3. NGOs shame Monaco on persecuting UK whistleblower
  4. British music stars voice anger on Brexit deal
  5. Brexit prompted finance exodus from UK to France
  6. Italian PM Conte wins confidence vote in Senate
  7. Borrell washes hands of EU's Venezuela policy
  8. Russia backs Greece in eastern Mediterranean dispute

EU pushes back against rising homophobia

The EU Commission plans a proposal to ensure recognition children-parent relations in cross border situations, and legislation to support the mutual recognition of parenthood between member states.

Portuguese presidency to focus on social rights and India

Social policies and the relationship between the EU and India will be at the heart of the next Portuguese EU presidency agenda, according to Portugal's secretary of state for European affairs Ana Paula Zacarias.

Budget deal struck, with Hungary threat still hanging

Ultimately, the European Parliament managed to squeeze an extra €16bn in total - which will be financed with competition fines the EU Commission hands out over the next seven years, plus reallocations within the budget.

Deal reached on linking EU funds to rule of law

The deal means MEPs and the German EU presidency unblocked a major political hurdle to agreeing on the €1.8 trillion long-term EU budget and coronavirus recovery package.

Opinion

The new dimension of 'ever-closer union'

The greatest mistake the EU institutions can possibly make at this juncture, is to turn the Conference on the Future of Europe into yet another round in the outdated feud between the federalists and the inter-governmentalists.

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Dutch government resigns two months before election

The four parties of the Dutch government, lead by prime minister Mark Rutte, have decided to let the government fall. On 17 March, two months from now, there are parliamentary elections in the Netherlands.

Italy government totters ahead of €200bn EU covid relief

Just in time to be all over the Italian evening news on Wednesday night, Matteo Renzi withdrew the two ministers of his small party, Italia Viva - making official the political crisis of the Giuseppe Conte government.

How Belgian government got caught up in human smuggling

Former Belgian minister Theo Francken gave one of his party friends the power to put Syrian Christians on a list to get Belgian humanitarian visa. This week that colleague was convicted of human smuggling.

State oil-firm buyout of media group sparks Polish fears

The Polish government has praised the move as the beginning of long-awaited "re-Polonisation" of media markets - but journalists, media experts and opposition parties see it as an attack on press freedom, and preparation for local elections.

Column

What is needed now: real leaders

Last August, German activists almost stormed the Reichstag building to protest the government's corona measures. In the Netherlands, farmers angry at the government's policies to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions rammed the doors of local government buildings with tractors.

Coronavirus

Commission silent as Germany buys own vaccines

The European Commission refused to comment on whether a bilateral deal between Germany and BioNTech for 30 million additional vaccines is a breach of EU collective purchase agreements - which forbid member states from negotiating separate deals.

Interview

Former US envoy to EU: 'Our democracy is fragile'

"I never dreamt I would see these things ... and chilling, chilling," Anthony Gardner, the former US ambassador to the EU, said of the pro-Trump mob which stormed the Capitol earlier this week.

US riot: How did EU's pro-Trump right react?

European far-right leaders who back outgoing US president Donald Trump condemned the violent mob who stormed the Capitol in Washington - but fell short of pinning blame on the man who incited the rioters.

EUobserved

European democrats, time to wake up

After the mob attack on Washington's Capitol Hill, we have to ask ourselves if it would be possible to see such a march on Brussels? The answer is: Yes. Europe is dealing with the same dark forces.

Opinion

The surprise return of the 'Weimar Triangle'

One little-discussed outcome of Berlin's six-months stint in the EU presidency hot seat is the reactivation of intra-EU consultations among France, Germany... and Poland.

EU leaders to discuss vaccine roll-out this month

EU leaders regularly held video-conferences to coordinate the pandemic reaction last year, but countries and EU institutions recently began a blame-game over the sluggish roll-out of vaccines.

Opinion

Sweden's non-lockdown didn't work - why not?

The Swedish king would have been better advised to use his annual Christmas interview to call for unity of purpose and shed light on the political roots of the country's response.

Top court finds Hungary and Poland broke EU rules

EU tribunal said Hungary's legislation made it "virtually impossible" to make an asylum application. Restricting access to international protection procedure is a violation of EU rules.

Von der Leyen pledges to use rule-of-law tool next year

MEPs on Wednesday pushed back against the conclusions of the EU leaders' summit of last week, arguing that the adopted legal text on rule of law is what matters - not the leaders' supplementary 'interpretation'.

Poland and Hungary battle to eradicate 'gender' in EU policies

The efforts by the two nationalist-conservative governments, which have both attacked LGBTIQ-rights and women' rights at home, is causing angst among several member states, who see it as a possible roll-back on gender rights.

Portugal will refocus EU on social rights, PM says

Portugal, which takes over the EU presidency next month, will play a key role in making sure the €750bn coronavirus recovery fund - which was unblocked by EU leaders last week - takes off.

Opinion

The rule-of-law deal that saved Merkel's legacy

Although the deal is much more a result of the unswerving positions of the Netherlands and the European Parliament than of the German presidency's negotiation skills, the success is an extremely important face-saving measure for Berlin.

Orbán: Summit will be 'D-Day' on rule-of-law blockade

The possible compromise would delay triggering the new mechanism originally designed to police the rule of law in member states. Legal experts in capitals are "digesting" the draft, one EU diplomat said.