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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 and US criticise Poland over Russian interference law, EU Commissioner wants to extend restrictions for Ukrainian grain imports, Spanish PM calls snap elections
European Circle in week 22, 2023
curated by Nina von Schweinitz


EU and US criticise Poland over Russian interference law: The United States and the European Union’s top justice official have criticised Polish plans for a law that they say could keep political opponents from holding public office without them having the full powers to challenge the decision in court. The EU also threatened to take measures if it became fully clear such a law would undermine democratic standards.

  • EU sanctions pro-Russian oligarch over plan to destabilise Moldova.

Denmark to increase defence spending: Denmark plans to invest 143 billion Danish crowns (21 billion dollars) in defence over the next ten years, which combined with increased military aid to Ukraine will help it achieve NATO’s spending target this year, its government said. „We must, to a greater extent, be able to live up to the demands and expectations that NATO and its allies have for Denmark,“ Troels Lund Poulsen, acting defence minister, told a press conference.

  • Arctic Exercise Challenge returns with important geopolitical stakes.

EU Commissioner wants to extend restrictions for Ukrainian grain imports: EU Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski said the controversial trade restrictions should best be extended until the end of the year, but at least until the end of October. His reasoning was that significantly more Ukrainian grain was entering the EU – especially in countries such as Poland, Hungary and Romania – and distorting the market there to the detriment of local farmers.

NATO deploys more troops to Kosovo amid violence: The deployment follows several days of unrest and the injury of 30 KFOR (short for Kosovo Force) troops on Monday as they tried to keep protesters away from municipal buildings in Serb-dominated towns in Kosovo. NATO condemned the attacks and called on all sides to refrain from actions that further inflame tensions, and to engage in dialogue. NATO also said that an additional reserve battalion would be ordered to increase readiness, so it would also be able to deploy in seven days if necessary.,

  • China and Russia express support for Serbs in Kosovo conflict.

AI is as risky as pandemics and nuclear war, industry leaders warn: In an open letter released Tuesday, the CEOs of the world’s leading artificial intelligence companies, along with hundreds of other AI scientists and experts, warned of the existential risks to humanity posed by the technology. Sam Altman of OpenAI, Demis Hassabis of DeepMind, and Dario Amodei of Anthropic are all signatories to the letter. “Mitigating the risk of extinction from A.I. should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks, such as pandemics and nuclear war,” reads the letter.

  • EU’s von der Leyen to meet OpenAI CEO Altman on Thursday.
  • Italy plans state-backed fund to promote AI startups.

EU doubles firefighting fleet: The EU announced that it is doubling its aerial firefighting fleet for the summer of 2023, citing challenges such as increasing forest fires due to the climate crisis. „The last few years have seen our greatest challenges so far“, Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic said, adding that in the last decade there had been on average a 350 percent increase in requests for assistance from its RescEU programme.

International observers: Turkish election ‚free but not fair‘
295 million euros for Moldova: Council of the EU nearly doubles the EU’s financial assistance
European Youth Event 2023: Young people speak out a year before EU elections
Paid sick leave: Which countries in Europe have the most generous benefits for ill workers?


“I asked both parties to urgently take measures to de-escalate tensions immediately and unconditionally.“

The EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell urged the leaders of Kosovo and Serbia to immediately de-escalate tensions after what he called “absolutely unacceptable” clashes in northern Kosovo in recent days.


Spanish PM calls snap elections: Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has announced snap parliamentary elections in July, hours after his ruling Socialists suffered major setbacks in regional and local elections. The conservative Popular Party made huge gains in Sunday’s elections, defeating incumbent Socialists in numerous key regional and city governments, including in the Valencia regional government in the east of the country and Seville city hall in the south.

Greece heads to the polls again on 25 June: Greece’s parliament was dissolved Monday, less than 24 hours after convening, paving the way for a new election in June. Under a decree signed by Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, caretaker Prime Minister Ioannis Sarmas and Cabinet ministers, the next parliament will convene on 3 July. No party achieved an overall majority in the national election on May 21, which was held under a simple proportional representation system; there was no attempt to form a coalition.

Southern European countries want EU funds to deal with increased drought levels: Southern EU member states are becoming increasingly concerned by drought in their territories, which is significantly impacting the agriculture sector. Some of the most affected countries are requesting the mobilisation of funds from the bloc’s so-called agricultural reserve – a pot of 450 million euros, meant to support farmers in exceptional times.

France, Austria and the Netherlands call for more rules for private jets: In a letter to the EU Commission, the three countries point out that private jets emit excessive amounts of carbon dioxide per capita. They called on the Commission to draw greater attention to this issue, and in particular to assess the possibility of imposing stronger regulation on private jet travel. „Private jet flights are a hobby of the super-rich. But we can’t all pay for it,“ said Austrian Climate Protection Minister Leonore Gewessler.

Germany and Poland tighten migrant route border checks: German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser announced a widening of checks at and near the border after talks with Polish counterpart Mariusz Kaminski on Tuesday — but stopped short of announcing stationary frontier controls. The tightening of checks would involve more controls on trains as well as on air traffic. The minister said the increased migration pressure through Poland from Belarus would be tackled by both countries.

  • Poland sanctions 365 Belarusians over journalist’s imprisonment.

Macron warns of dangers of plastic pollution: French President Emmanuel Macron warned that global plastic pollution is a time bomb as delegates began five days of talks in Paris aimed at reaching an international treaty to end plastic waste. Macron urged nations to put an end to today’s globalised and unsustainable production model. “We have to end plastic pollution. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This is a once-in-a-planet opportunity,” United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Inger Andersen said.,

France to open first electric car battery factory: France is inaugurating its first factory to produce batteries for electric cars, as part of the government’s ambitions to reindustrialise the country and catch up with Chinese manufacturers. The plant opening in the north of France is owned by Automotive Cells Company, a partnership between French energy giant TotalEnergies, Mercedes-Benz and Stellantis, which owns a range of brands including Peugeot, Fiat and Chrysler.

Serbia’s President Vucic steps down as head of ruling party: Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic stepped down as leader of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) at a party congress on Saturday, saying a new approach was needed to unite the country, but said he would remain head of state. The move came a day after tens of thousands of people from across Serbia and from neighbouring Kosovo, Montenegro and Bosnia rallied in the centre of Belgrade in a show of support for Vucic following big anti-government protests over two mass shootings that killed 18 people earlier this month.

Italy: Over 600 migrants dock in the southern port of Bari
Bulgaria: President hostile to coalition set to try form government
UK: No 10 denies cover-up over Boris Johnson Covid WhatsApps


Lufthansa will take a 41% stake in ITA Airways by way of a 325 million euro capital increase that will flow directly to the Italian carrier.


Alleged Russian spy whale spotted in Sweden: A harness-wearing Beluga whale that turned up in Norway in 2019, sparking speculation it was a spy trained by the Russian navy, has appeared off Sweden’s coast, an organisation following him said Monday. First discovered in Norway’s far northern region of Finnmark, the whale spent more than three years slowly moving down the top half of the Norwegian coastline, before suddenly speeding up in recent months to cover the second half and on to Sweden.