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EU-Ukraine summit in Kyiv on Friday, Three wounded in knife attack in Brussels, France’s pension plan strikes bring country to a standstill
European Circle in week 05, 2023
curated by Nina von Schweinitz


EU-Ukraine summit in Kyiv on Friday: Ukraine will hold a summit with the European Union in Kyiv this week, the government announced Tuesday, as it expressed hope the conference will bring the war-battered nation closer to EU membership almost a year after Russia launched its invasion. Kyiv also announced it expects to receive up to 140 modern battle tanks from its Western allies, and the prospect of more advanced weapons for Ukraine came from the United States.

  • France and US announce more weapons for Ukraine.
  • Baltic states and Poland assure further support for Ukraine.
  • Athens doesn’t want to deliver Leopard tanks to Ukraine because of tensions with Turkey.
  • Latvia extends state of emergency on border with Belarus.

Zelensky pushes for Ukraine to join the EU: Amid the Russian invasion that has now lasted almost a year, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wants to push ahead with his country’s planned EU accession. In his evening video address on Tuesday, he reiterated that Kyiv was continuing to work on reforms, saying: „We expect decisions from our partners in the European Union that (…) correspond to our progress. Progress that is obviously there – and even despite the large-scale war.“

EU prolongs economic sanctions over Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine: These sanctions, first introduced in 2014 in response to Russia’s actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine, were significantly expanded since February 2022, in light of Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine. They currently consist of a broad spectrum of sectoral measures, including restrictions on trade, finance, technology and dual-use goods, industry, transport and luxury goods.

EU struggles with Russian oil price cap: The European Union is heading for intense talks in the coming days over how to further curb Russian revenues from exports of oil and petroleum products, and strengthen sanctions to hit President Vladimir Putin’s war machine. EU diplomats are due to start discussions on Friday about a review of a price cap on Russian crude oil exports to third countries that the Group of Seven and the EU put into place late last year. They also need to decide price levels for new caps on petroleum products, including diesel, by early February.

Three wounded in knife attack in Brussels: Belgian police have arrested an attacker who knifed three people in a Brussels metro station on Monday, leaving one with critical injuries, officials said. While the motives of the attacker, a 30-year-old man, remain unclear, police have ruled out a terrorist attack, the prosecutor’s office said. A source close to the investigation told Reuters the attacker was previously known by the police. A witness told Euronews the assault unfolded inside a metro car when the attacker stabbed a woman with a knife and asked passengers to exit.,

EU calls on Elon Musk to comply with upcoming regulations: EU industry chief Thierry Breton has told Elon Musk that Twitter will have to do more over the coming months to prepare for the EU’s new social-media regulations. The two held a video call two months ago during which Breton warned Musk of huge work ahead for Twitter to apply transparent use policies, significantly reinforce content moderation and protect freedom of speech.

Two more lawmakers under suspicion in EU corruption scandal: The European Parliament’s legal affairs committee voted unanimously to lift the immunity of Andrea Cozzolino and Marc Tarabella, two European lawmakers caught up in the Qatargate corruption scandal. Cozzolino and Tarabella have been ensnared in the scandal that involves current and former MEPs and lobbyists accused of taking cash in exchange for influencing the EU Parliament’s work in favour of Qatar and Morocco. Both MEPs have strongly denied wrongdoing.

EU won’t borrow more to counter US green subsides: The EU Commission will not propose any new joint EU borrowing this Wednesday when it presents ideas on how to support Europe’s green industry facing Chinese and US competition, a draft of its „Green Deal Industrial Plan“ showed on Monday. Instead, the draft seen by Reuters offers to re-purpose some of the money the EU has already agreed to raise jointly for its post-coronavirus pandemic recovery fund. It will also loosen state aid rules to allow governments to support their firms more.

IMF improves economic forecast for the eurozone: The prospect of a recession in the eurozone is fading as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) moderately improves its economic forecast for the bloc. The eurozone is now projected to grow 0.7% this year – up from 0.5% in the previous forecast – and 1.6% in 2024. In its latest forecast, the IMF highlights the resilience and adaptation of the European economy in the face of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the energy crisis and soaring inflation, but warns risks and uncertainty remain elevated.

Battle over food labels looms as Brussels prepares to make EU-wide decision: Brussels is to approve an informative food label in the coming months to be used throughout the EU. Among the options is the Nutri-Score, a traffic light label already used in seven countries. The Nutri-Score is a five-colour scale that indicates the nutritional quality of a product, taking into account a fixed quantity of 100 grammes or millilitres. Protein, fibre, fruit and vegetables increase the rating, whereas other elements such as sugar, fat and salt lower it. But many people do not like it, including Italian lawmakers, who warn that the Nutri-Score provides a misleading indication, which penalises national delicacies, like hams and cheeses.

European solar and wind surpass gas power for the first time: Wind turbines and solar panels produced more than a fifth of the EU’s electricity last year, for the first time delivering more power than natural gas, a new report shows. The analysis, from independent energy think tank Ember, indicates that wind and solar produced 22% of the EU’s electricity over the year, while gas generated 20%. The report further shows that the rise in renewable electricity generation helped to avoid €10 billion ($10.89 billion) in gas costs.

Transparency International: Hungary is the most corrupt country in the EU
Brexit: Expert rules out Britain’s return to the EU in the next 15 years
European Court of Human Rights rejects intersex birth certificate plea
NATO chairmanship: Lithuania’s prime minister is in the running


„The result is the worst war in Europe for 80 years.“

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called it a mistake for Nato not to have accepted Ukraine into the alliance after 2014.


France’s pension plan strikes bring country to a standstill: French schools and transportation networks were heavily disrupted Tuesday for the second time this month, as unions staged another mass strike against government plans to raise the retirement age for most workers. Despite the mass action, President Emmanuel Macron’s government is standing firm on planned pension reforms, which will gradually increase the age at which French citizens can draw a state pension to 64, from 62. The government has said the legislation is necessary to tackle a funding deficit, but the reforms have angered workers at a time when living costs are rising.

  • UK faces widespread gridlock this Wednesday due to a public sector strike.
  • Finland to likely face wave of strikes in February.

France unveils new plan to fight against racism: The four-year plan starts with educating youth with a required yearly trip to a Holocaust or other memorial site exemplifying the horrors that racism can produce. It includes training teachers and civil servants about discrimination and toughening the ability to punish those denounced for discrimination. Arrest warrants will be issued to those who use freedom of expression for racist or anti-Semitic ends.

Czech President-elect Pavel spoke on the phone with Taiwan’s President: China on Tuesday accused Czech President-elect Petr Pavel of challenging its hard line on national sovereignty by affirming ties with self-ruled Taiwan in a phone call with the island’s leader. The call on Monday represents a symbolic breach of China’s attempts to cut off the already highly restricted foreign relations of the self-governing democracy, which Beijing claims as its own territory with no right to independent diplomatic recognition.

Outrage over denied abortion for 14-year-old in Poland: Abortions in Poland are only permitted if the pregnancy is the result of rape. But recently a 14-year-old mentally disabled girl was denied an abortion anyway. The case shows that even in cases of rape it can be very difficult for women to have an abortion. Opposition representatives are calling for an amendment to the abortion law.

Scotland says transgender prisoners with violent pasts will not go to women’s jails: No transgender prisoner with a history of violence against women will be accommodated in a women’s prison, Scotland’s justice secretary has announced, as the country’s prison service announced an urgent review of all transgender inmates. It comes two days after Nicola Sturgeon said she did not favour “a blanket approach” to transgender prisoners, and amid growing pressure on her government after reports that another violent transgender prisoner had been approved for transfer into the female prison estate.

Spain to close loophole in sexual consent law: The Spanish government committed to amend a new sexual consent law that while intended to increase the protection of women has inadvertently allowed hundreds of sex offenders to get their prison sentences significantly reduced. The law, known as “only yes means yes,” made verbal consent, or the lack thereof, the key component in cases of alleged sexual assault. But it also revised the minimum and maximum prison terms for sexual assault convictions, a move which has opened the door to judges shaving months or even years off convictions for rapists and abusers on appeal.

Germany urges swift EU-Mercosur free trade deal: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Saturday urged a swift conclusion to talks on a free trade deal between the European Union and the Mercosur South American trade bloc, on the first stop in Buenos Aires of his inaugural tour of the region. Berlin wants to lower its dependence on China for minerals key to the energy transition, making resource-rich Latin America an important partner. The region’s potential for renewable energy output is another attraction.

Armenia urges UN court to order Azerbaijan to end road block: Armenia pleaded with judges of the United Nations’ highest court on Monday to order Azerbaijan to break up a road blockade that is isolating the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, calling the action part of an act of “ethnic cleansing.” Late last year, Azerbaijanis claiming to be environmental activists began blocking a winding road known as the Lachin Corridor that forms the only land connection between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. The blockade threatens food supplies to Nagorno-Karabakh’s 120,000 people. Armenia argues the protests are orchestrated by Azerbaijan.

Slovakia’s parliament sets early election for 30 September: Ninety-two lawmakers in the 150-seat National Council — two more than needed — voted in favour of the move that came a week after lawmakers amended the country’s constitution to make it possible to hold early elections. After the coalition government led by Prime Minister Eduard Heger lost a no-confidence vote in parliament in December, President Zuzana Caputova gave lawmakers a 31 January deadline to make the needed constitutional changes and approve a date for the snap vote.

Belgium can’t refuse to extradite Catalan separatists without very good reason: The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that Belgium’s decision to refuse the extradition of Catalan separatist Lluís Puig to Spain is not legal — unless it finds systemic deficiencies in Spain’s judicial system.

Germany pledges around 200 million euros for forest protection in the Amazon: Germany on Monday pledged 200 million euros to help Brazil defend the Amazon rainforest, a global ecosystem devastated during years of rule under former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Germany’s Development Minister Svenja Schulze told reporters the German government recognised Brazil’s new leftist administration was working hard to show results in reducing deforestation in its first 100 days in office.

France: Senate backs AI-powered video surveillance for Paris 2024 Olympics
Belgium shuts down nuclear reactor on German border
Italian cities fail to meet air pollution threshold, study shows


The eurozone continued defying the odds by showing economic growth in the last quarter of 2022, a period in which most analysts and investors expected to see a contraction. The 20-strong bloc grew by an extremely modest 0.1% rate during last year’s fourth quarter compared to the previous quarter.


Which country drinks the most alcohol in Europe? Out of the ten countries that drink the most in the world (and adjusting for tourist consumption), nine are located in the EU, according to the 2021 European health report by the World Health Organization (WHO). In 2019, the top 10 European countries with the highest alcohol consumption per capita were Czechia (14.3 litres), Latvia (13.2), Moldova (12.9), Germany (12.8), Lithuania (12.8), Ireland (12.7), Spain (12.7), Bulgaria (12.5), Luxembourg (12.4), and Romania (12.3).