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Every Wednesday, the European Circle delivers an overview of the most important topics from the European Union and the European nations.


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EU military aid for Ukraine, Record fine for Meta, EU Commission vs. Apple
European Circle in week 21, 2023
curated by Nina von Schweinitz


New EU military aid for Ukraine: EU countries have provided 220,000 artillery shells and 1,300 missiles to Ukraine since March, EU policy chief Josep Borrell has said, as member states discuss raising Europe’s military budget by another €3.5bn. The EU has agreed to spend two billion euros from its common funds to try to get a million rounds of artillery ammunition to Ukraine over the course of twelve months. The EU Commission also announced the disbursement of a fourth payment of 1.5 billion euros to Ukraine. Meanwhile, Germany and Hungary quarrelled over the role a controversial Hungarian bank is playing in Russia’s war in Ukraine, according to reports.,,

  • France to increase defence spending by 30%.

EU welcomes F-16 jet decision for training Ukraine pilots: EU policy chief Josep Borrell said that the US green light to allow Ukrainian pilots to get training to fly F-16s has created an inexorable momentum that will inevitably bring the fighter jets to the Ukrainian battlefield. He added that the training of Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16 jets has begun in Poland, while the Ukraine said it would still take some time before pilots started their training. Germany is looking into options to support a coalition of countries that plan to train Ukrainian pilots in flying F-16 fighter jets, German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said. Dutch Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren said training would be the first step towards the eventual supply of Western aircraft to Kyiv.

  • Poland registers more migrants at border with Belarus.
  • Czechs take next step to eliminate Russian oil from Polish-owned refineries.
  • Denmark plans to host Ukraine peace summit in July.
  • Cyber defence: EU Council to mobilise full range of options.

Meta fined a record $1.3 billion over EU user data transfers to the US: Several mechanisms to legally transfer personal data between the US and the EU have been contested. The latest such iteration, Privacy Shield, was struck down by the European Court of Justice in 2020. The Irish Data Protection Commission alleged that Meta infringed the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation when it continued to send the personal data of European citizens to the US despite the 2020 European court ruling.

EU seeks top court backing in $14 billion tax fight against Apple: EU competition regulators appealed to the bloc’s highest court to override a lower tribunal and make Apple pay a record 13 billion euros in Irish back taxes. The case, which has far-reaching implications for corporate tax bills, is the most high-profile of EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager’s campaign against sweetheart deals between multinationals and European Union states.

EU imposes further sanctions on Iran officials and entities: The new sanctions target five people and two entities for their role in the violent crackdown against public protests in Iran, the European Council announced. Restrictive measures now apply to a total of 216 individuals and 37 entities. They consist of an asset freeze, a travel ban to the EU and a prohibition to make funds or economic resources available to those listed.

South Korea and EU pledge to boost security ties: European Council President Charles Michel and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen held talks with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol on Monday during a summit in Seoul. According to a joint statement, the trio agreed to increase cooperation in the face of global threats, including Russia’s war in Ukraine and North Korea’s efforts to develop its nuclear arsenal.

EU improves availability of instant payment options in euro: Instant payments allow people to transfer money within ten seconds, also outside business hours, not only within the same country but also to another EU member state. Under the proposed rules, payment service providers such as banks which provide standard credit transfers in euro will be required to also offer the service of sending and receiving instant payments in euro. The charges they apply (if any) must not be higher than the charges they apply for standard credit transfers.

EU countries back ban on destruction of unsold textiles: European Union governments agreed on Monday that the bloc should ban the destruction of unsold textiles, part of the EU’s green push towards reducing waste through greater reuse and recycling. Textile consumption in Europe has the fourth highest impact on the environment and climate change after food, housing and mobility.

Lawmakers seek ouster of oil exec leading COP28 climate talks: More than 130 members of the US Congress and the EU Parliament called for the ouster of the oil executive leading the next UN Climate Change Conference in the United Arab Emirates this fall. The letter represents a remarkable rebuke of the decision to name Sultan Al Jaber, who runs the state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, as president of the climate summit.

G7 meeting: US, EU and UK announce new Russia sanctions
China: Von der Leyen criticises circumvention of Russia sanctions
NATO: UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace says NATO top job ‘would be fantastic’


„Ukraine has the right of self-defence. We help Ukraine to uphold that right. That doesn’t make NATO and NATO allies a party to the conflict.“

Training Ukrainian pilots on Western F-16 fighter jets does not make NATO a party to the conflict, its chief Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday, as allies pledged to speed up preparations to start lessons.


Video shows Greece abandoning migrants at sea: The Greek government is facing fresh condemnation of its migration policies, after the release of video footage depicting the forcible expulsion of asylum seekers who had sought sanctuary in the country. The footage, taken by an Austrian activist on Lesbos last month, was brought to light by the New York Times, which published the material on Friday.,

Greek conservatives win parliamentary election: Greece’s conservative New Democracy party achieved a victory in a national election on Sunday, official results showed. New Democracy had a lead of 40.8% of the vote based on 94.3% of the votes counted versus 20.1% for the leftist Syriza party, but fell just short of the threshold needed to form a government on its own. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he will reject the mandate to form a coalition government, hoping for a new election by the end of June.,

Hungary releases hundreds of people smugglers: Budapest released hundreds of foreign prisoners convicted of people smuggling, and gave them just 72 hours to leave the country. Austria’s government on Monday asked Hungary for explanations as it stepped up security along the countries’ shared border following Budapest’s decision to grant early release to convicted people smugglers.

EU car emission limits face pushback from eight members: France, Italy and the Czech Republic are among eight countries pushing to weaken new EU emissions limits for cars, saying they are overly ambitious and unrealistic for automakers to hit. European Union countries and lawmakers are preparing to negotiate the Euro 7 regulation, which from 2025 would tighten vehicle emission limits for pollutants including nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide.

Italy passes aid package for those affected by deadly floods: Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s government passed a two billion euro aid package to help businesses and families affected by this latest extreme weather event. More than 36,000 people have been evacuated and at least 14 people died in the floods. Of those evacuated nearly 5,000 are sheltering in government allocated centres such as cinemas and museums. Although the heavy rain has stopped in recent days, the water level is still high. A town of 2000 inhabitants near the northern city of Ravenna was completely evacuated.,

Boris Johnson referred to police over possible new COVID rule breaches: Britain’s former prime minister Boris Johnson has been referred to police over further potential breaches of lockdown rules during the COVID-19 pandemic. Johnson, whose premiership was cut short in part by anger in his own party and across Britain over COVID rule-breaking lockdown parties in his Downing Street office and residence, was defiant, saying the assertion was unfounded.

Salman Rushdie receives Medal of Merit from British Palace: British novelist Sir Salman Rushdie said he has started writing again after being attacked in New York. The writer was among those recognised at Windsor Castle on Tuesday after being made a Servant of the Companions of Honour. The 75-year-old has been the victim of repeated death threats and attempts on his life since the publication of his 1988 novel The Satanic Verses.

Bulgaria parties agree to form coalition govt in bid to end deadlock: Bulgaria’s two largest political parties, the centre-right GERB and a pro-Western bloc led by „We continue to change“, agreed on Monday to form a coalition government with a rotating prime minister in a bid to end more than two years of policy deadlock. The uncertainty forced EU-member Bulgaria to delay its target date for adopting the euro and it has yet to approve a budget bill for 2023. It also hampered Bulgaria’s ability to harness EU post-pandemic recovery funds.

Italy: Climate activists dump charcoal in Rome’s Trevi Fountain
Italy 2: Mount Etna eruption halts flights to Sicily’s Catania airport
Moldova: Pro-government rally in Moldovan capital draws tens of thousands
Northern Ireland: Sinn Fein wins in local elections, urges return of government


Only 9% of Britons now consider Brexit more of a success than a failure. Some 62% of people describe it as more of a failure, a YouGov survey shows.


UK minister denies meddling over speeding ticket: UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman has brushed off reports that she tried to pull strings after getting a speeding ticket. She said that after being caught speeding last year, she paid a fine and received demerit points on her licence. The Sunday Times reported that Braverman had asked civil servants to arrange a private speed-awareness session for her, rather than the usual group course for drivers who commit minor offenses. The newspaper said civil servants refused to get involved.