Monday

25th Jan 2021

MEPs call for workers to have 'right to disconnect'

MEPs called for a new law guaranteeing workers can 'disconnect' outside work hours, without repercussion. But they also passed a last-minute amendment, calling on the commission to delay any legislation for three years.

News in Brief

  1. Estonia to get first woman prime minister
  2. Turkey and Greece to hold Mediterranean security talks
  3. Dutch police detain 240 in anti-lockdown protests
  4. Renewables overtake fossil fuels in EU electricity mix
  5. France's top scientist warns of corona 'emergency'
  6. Growing appetite for Northern Ireland independence
  7. Surge in support for Portuguese far-right party
  8. German far-right party sues to avoid stigma

EU rolls out vaccine, as UK-variant spreads

Most EU member states began rolling out the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19 on Sunday, as a more contagious variant from the UK begins to spread on the continent.

Pandemic exposed gulf in EU digital-schooling

EU states who invested in digital education were better able to protect students from the pandemic, a new report has said. Meanwhile, poor and rural pupils were worse off.

Opinion

Berlin, Madrid, Amsterdam fought Commission - and won

An outcry from major European city governments - including Amsterdam, Berlin, Madrid, Barcelona and Budapest - has helped shelve an EU Commission power grab over municipalities' services industries, such as in affordable housing, energy supply and waste management.

Coronavirus

Europe is back in (partial) lockdown

The burden on healthcare systems all across the bloc, as a result of the autumn surge in coronavirus infections, is triggering new nationwide lockdowns and restrictive measures in nearly every EU member state.

Green Deal

First look at EU's new '21st Century Bauhaus' project

The European Commission unveiled its plans for the 'New European Bauhaus' initiative - an environmental, economic and cultural project whose aim is to design "future ways of living" in a sustainable manner.

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.

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Coronavirus

'Difficult weeks' ahead as EU deaths and infections soar

National authorities have warned citizens about "difficult" weeks ahead, as more than a quarter of EU countries are seeing strained health systems - amid a blame-game over the slow rollout of the vaccine in some member states.

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.

Column

BioNTech: Stop talking about their 'migration background'

I understand that the German-Turkish community - often subjected to condescension in Germany - celebrated the story. Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türecki represent scientific excellence and business success at the highest level.

Feature

Covid-hit homeless find Xmas relief at Brussels food centre

The Kamiano food distribution centre in Brussels is expecting 20 people every half hour on Christmas Day. For many, Kamiano is also more than that - a support system for those made homeless or impoverished.

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.

Coronavirus

Revealed: Hit to EU mental health services during Covid-19

The pandemic has both hampered access to mental health services, while increasing demand for psychological support, particularly in countries with the most severe coronavirus lockdowns. Meanwhile, experts warn that 'teletherapy' is not a universal fix.

Opinion

Nationwide protests reveal awakening of Poland's youth

The impact of Covid-19 on the scale, demography and length of current protests cannot be underestimated. Newspapers have hailed them "the biggest demonstrations since the fall of communism in 1989".

Coronavirus

Amnesty exposes Amazon staff conditions on 'Black Friday'

Attempts by Amazon staff to unionise were met with court action in Poland, while in the UK the online giant checked workers' Facebook profiles for union activity. Meanwhile, extra coronavirus risk-pay for staff ended in May in most countries.

Opinion

EU corporate due diligence: new rules, or businesses rule?

The Brussels rumour mill has it that the EU Commission is being pressured to put forward a weaker proposal than what civil society organisations, trade unions, and the European Economic and Social Committee say is needed.

Opinion

EU minimum wage directive undercuts Scandinavian model

Imposing minimum wages and interfering in collective bargaining through binding legislation, not only means breaching EU treaties - there is also a serious risk that this will undermine successful labour market models that have delivered real wage increases for decades.

Opinion

Buyer beware! Online pet sales in EU need better regulation

While online is becoming the main method for buying pets, the lack of rules on the responsibilities of platforms regarding pet advertising has severely compromised consumer protection, fair competition, and animal health and welfare.

Coronavirus

EU urges rollout of rapid coronavirus tests

The European Commission recommended a slew of anti-corona measures, urging member states scale up testing capacity, by increasing the use of rapid antigen tests, in order to help ease travel restrictions and prevent laboratory collapses.

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.

Coronavirus

EU seeks more health powers after dubious Covid-19 response

After the lack of coordination evidenced during the first months of the Covid-19 pandemic, the European Commission put forward a set of proposals to strengthen the preparedness of members states in cross-border health threats.

Gender equality still 60 years away, warns study

A new report on gender equality in the EU makes it clear: improved gender equality in decision-making is the main driver of progress in the EU. And most progress so far is due to outliers Sweden, Denmark and France.

Coronavirus

EU Commission's Covid-19 expert offers bleak outlook

Belgian microbiologist Peter Piot offered a bleak assessment of available options to rid the world of the pandemic caused by Covid-19. Aside from wishful thinking, millions of possible deaths, and crushing poverty, a vaccine appears to be the only solution.

EU Commission unveils 'adequate minimum wage' plan

The European Commission proposed minimum standards to ensure adequate minimum wages all across the EU. But the proposal does not oblige member states to harmonise their systems, nor does it set a common minimum wage level.

MEPs hear clash over occupied Hungarian drama school

The dispute over control of the film and theatre school has generated global support with dozens of internationally recognised artists - including actresses Cate Blanchett and Helen Mirren and author Salman Rushdie - supporting the school and its autonomy.

Podcast

Apostles of intersectionality challenge Europe

Intersectionality is the concept that overlapping identities - disability, gender, race and sexual-orientation for example - create forms of discrimination that can go unaddressed. But many EU leaders are wary of the kind of identity politics that intersectionality implies.

Polish court effectively bans legal abortions

The human rights commissioner of the Council of Europe said the ruling marked a "sad day for women's rights", adding that more women will seek abortions underground and abroad.

France vows tough retaliation for teacher's murder

Muslim NGOs targeted by the France's retaliatory response to the brutal murder of a schoolteacher claim the government is labelling "innocent Muslims as 'Islamists" just to be able to say that they are doing something".

Opinion

All eyes on EU court for decision on religious slaughter

The European Court of Justice is currently facing a major question: can religious freedom coexist with animal welfare? The decision of whether religious slaughter can continue is expected in a matter of weeks.