Tuesday, 31 March 2020

EU news march 2020

What happened in the EU in March 2020

Well, yes, the Coronavirus came to Europe too as it has spread to almost every country in the world. One by one, EU countries took measures to protect their citizens.

As with the previous big emergencies, the EU reacted very slowly and carefully. Too slow and too carefully according to some. When faced with a crisis, the victims want more solidarity and those less affected don't want to give more solidarity. Remember the asylum crisis or the financial crisis? Other story, same problem.

You may wonder why I rarely include articles from tabloids or popular press in the recommended readings. A good example is this one. It speaks of the EU meltdown, a collapse and the end of the bloc. A meltdown is what happened at nuclear sites like Chernobyl.

If you type this newspaper's title, plus EU and meltdown in Google, you'll get so many articles of this newspaper, recent and from the past. Personally, I'm not convinced this is the right choice of words - especially if you continue using this kind of words. The EU isn't going to melt down, as it didn't every single time that newspaper used the word meltdown before. So that's why I don't include them.

Greece and migrants
Just before Corona, Turkey sent plenty of migrants to the borders of Greece. Both sides used a lot of propaganda, accusing each other. But the Commission warned Greece to respect asylum law. Also, a newspaper revealed some people were held in a secret site and sent back (see article link below).

New EU members
Some more positive news: North Macedonia and Albania will start their membership talks. It will take them some time and effort, as they will need to start respecting the EU rules. Albania, for instance, will have to do more against corruption.

Recommended readings:
Time magazine: Coronavirus, a test for the EU
The Guardian: Asylum in Greece
New York Times: Secret site for asylum seekers

Saturday, 29 February 2020

EU news February 2020

What happened in the EU in February 2020?
As written in the previous newsletter, we're not done with Brexit. The British Prime Minister has a larger majority in his Parliament now, so he has more power. This will affect the negotiations, for example on who is allowed to fish around the coast of the UK.
When the UK decided to get its new passports (blue, not the EU colour anymore) made in Poland, many Brexit critics laughed. It's just one of these anecdotes you'll be hearing in the coming months.
Face recognition in the EU?
According to the Intercept, the police in the EU might get access to all the faces saved in the each other's databases. Now, they can only check each other's fingerprints and DNA.
Climate hypocrisy
It's the Commission's priority to tackle the climate. For example, it is thinking of raising a tax on the consumption of meat. Now, the European Parliament agreed with a proposal of the Commission to give a lot of money to gas infrastructure projects, which are not considered to be good for the climate.
Not only is the EU preparing itself for a trade agreement with the UK, it's also using it as a tool to influence other countries. Vietnam made a few reforms over the years, and will now be allowed to trade with the EU almost for free. So when a Vietnamese car producer wants to sell their car in the EU, it won't pay taxes at the border.
Recommended readings:
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Friday, 31 January 2020

EU news January 2020

What happened in the EU in January 2020

Tonight at 00:00 Brussels time, the United Kingdom legally leaves the European Union. What it means? British politicians lose their political power in the EU. No more Brits in the European Parliament. No more British PM when Prime Ministers and Presidents meet. Plus, some symbolic changes, like British passports changing colours. But the UK will still pay as much for the EU budget as before.

This situation will continue for 11 months. During this period, the UK and the EU will talk about how their relationship will be. Experts say a trade deal will be very, very difficult in less than a year. A 'hard' Brexit, with no deal, will still remain on the table. The EU countries will have to balance the money the UK contributes to the EU budget with trade concessions. So expect the same story again in the coming year.

Phone chargers
The Parliament and Commission are thinking of making one charger for all phones. If this happens, everybody could use the same charger. This is just one example of how the EU has or could have a big impact on our lives.

Recommended readings:
New York Times: phone chargers
BBC: changes after Brexit
The Guardian: Brexit

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

What happened in the EU in December 2019?
The British PM won the election. His promise of a quick Brexit took many voters away from more extreme political parties. Plus, the main opposition (Labour) wasn't very clear. Only one party (LibDem) was in favour of staying in the EU.

But what does it change? The PM did not have a majority in Parliament. Now he has one, so his Brexit deal will very likely be accepted. However, this doesn't mean the end of Brexit. The deal was only about how the EU and the UK would negotiate, and just a bit about the content. For instance, they have only one year left to find a trade agreement. To be continued...
The EU and the EU countries
The EU and its countries sometimes clash. Two examples, one from Malta and one from Luxembourg. In Malta, a journalist was murdered and the Prime Minister did not react well, according to members of the European Parliament. They asked him to resign.
In an effort to improve tax transparency, the Commission wants to force big multinationals to publish where and how much taxes they pay. Some countries, including Luxembourg, have many of those multinationals in their countries and opposed the proposition and argued it's not the EU's task to do this.
Migrants in Croatia
Christmas may have been nice for refugees in Israel 2000 years ago, but not if you're a migrant in Croatia nowadays. Croatian police is reported to have tortured many migrants. It is sadly the same story as in Hungary. Other EU countries don't really care, because it means less migrants in their own country.
Recommended readings:

Saturday, 30 November 2019

EU news - november 2019

What happened in the EU in November 2019

New Commission
The new European Commission was voted for in the European Parliament. The three big groups in the Parliament voted in favour of the new Commission. Tomorrow, the new Commission will start working. The main priority will be climate change. But some priorities aren't predictable, like Brexit.

The new President of the Commission (in red)© European Union 2019 - Source : EP / Christian CREUTZ
Brits are going to vote on 12 December. The current Prime Minister is likely to win. Which means his deal for leaving the EU will be used. Also, each EU country sends a Commissioner to the Commission, but the UK didn't because of the elections.

Farming subsidiesThe EU gives farmers a lot of help. 65 000 000 000 euro each year. Why? Because when the EU started, hunger was a big problem. So the European leaders gave lots of money to help with the food production. Nowadays, this isn't really a problem anymore.

To make matters even worse, a lot of money goes to people who actually don't need it, according to an investigation of the New York Times. Even some EU leaders often criticising the EU take money in secret ways. It's a shame because the money doesn't go where it belongs.

Fundamental rightsThe EU guarantees fundamental rights to its citizens. This is especially important for minorities. It's been 10 years since the Charter guaranteeing those rights became legal.

Recommended readings:Politico: the new European Commission
New York Times: corruption with farm subsidiesEuropean Commission: 10 years of fundamental rightsPolitico: power in the EU's institutions

Thursday, 31 October 2019

EU news October 2019

What happened in the EU in October 2019?
Brexit... didn't happen. The deadline is now 31 January next year. Before the deadline, the Brits will vote again in new elections on 12 December. How did this happen?
First, the British PM found a new deal with the EU to leave. However, the Parliament forced him to ask for a delay. Which the EU agreed with. The PM doesn't have a majority in Parliament, so that's why he had to ask for a delay. But with the new elections, the PM might win a majority in Parliament...
Schengen will get bigger. What's Schengen? It's an agreement between many, but not all, EU countries. It means the countries won't check their borders between each other too much. For example, if you travel from France to Germany, no one will stop you at the border. This was very difficult during the migration crisis. Now Croatia will join. (more)

©EU washing machines will last longer from 2021 on
Washing machines
No spare parts for your washing machine? In the EU, shops will have to make those spare parts available for up to 10 years. Machines like fridges will also have to last longer. (more)

Monday, 30 September 2019

EU news in September 2019

What happened in the EU in September 2019?
The next deadline for the UK to leave the EU is by the end of next month. The UK's Prime Minister tried to limit the UK's Parliament, but he failed. The Parliament wants to avoid a Brexit without a deal. So the Parliament wants to force the PM to ask for delay if there is no deal. (more)

©The British Parliament
A new European Commission
After the elections, a new 'government' is formed. In this case, the European Commission. So the President choose her team from the candidates proposed by the EU countries. Now the candidates are being put on the test in the Parliament. (more)
The European Parliament's resolutions
Resolutions from the European Parliament aren't laws. No one has to obey to what is in resolutions. However, sometimes they can have an impact, even internationally. For example, in one resolution, the Parliament asked Turkey to give Kurdish mayors their job back. (more)