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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 to require uniform charging cables, Russian foreign minister cancels Serbia trip, EU plans uniform minimum wage standards
European Circle in week 23, 2022
curated by Nina von Schweinitz

EUROPE

All mobile phones and tablets must have a common USB-C charger: By autumn 2024, USB Type-C will become the common charging port for all mobile phones, tablets and cameras in the EU, Parliament and Council negotiators agreed on Tuesday. Mobile phones, tablets, e-readers, earbuds, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld videogame consoles and portable speakers that are rechargeable via a wired cable will have to be equipped with a USB Type-C port, regardless of their manufacturer. Laptops will also have to be adapted to the requirements by 40 months after the entry into force. „This new law will make the lives of European consumers easier and will be better for the environment,“ said Bulgarian MEP Andrey Kovatchev, one of the negotiators. europarl.europa.eu, dw.com

Scholz defends Germany over Putin talks: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Tuesday fended off criticism over his insistence on talking to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Scholz said it was important to pass on realistic assessments to the Russian president, such as telling Putin that he could not impose a “dictated peace” on Ukraine and normalise relations with the EU and the West. Latvian Prime Minister Arturs Krisjanis Kariņs said he was “convinced that Putin will not start talks until he realises that he is starting to lose the war.” Criticism of Emmanuel Macron continued on Monday, following comments reported at the weekend in which the French president repeated his belief that it is important not to „humiliate Russia“. politico.eu, euronews.com

  • Russian parliament votes to break with European Court of Human Rights reuters.com
  • Ukraine to get anti-aircraft missiles and tanks from Spain, report says reuters.com
  • Poland concludes major arms deal with Ukraine n-tv.de

Merkel opens up on Ukraine, Putin and her legacy: Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended her legacy on Ukraine on Tuesday in her first major interview since leaving office. She said that given Russia’s proximity to Europe, it was politically impossible not to trade with each other. She refused to apologise for her policies towards Moscow, but stressed there was no justification for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. dw.com

Lavrov cancels Serbia trip after neighbours close airspace: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was forced to cancel a visit to Serbia on Monday after several of its neighbours prevented his plane from passing through their airspace, officials said. Lavrov had been due to meet President Aleksandar Vucic, his counterpart Nikola Selakovic and Serbian Patriarch Porfirije. While Serbia has condemned Russia’s military action in Ukraine, it has not joined the EU in imposing sanctions in Moscow. euractiv.com

Patriarch Kirill excluded from EU sanctions after Hungary’s objection: Patriarch Kirill, the head of Russia’s Orthodox Church, will be excluded from the latest package of EU sanctions against Russia after Hungary’s objection. Brussels accuses Patriarch Kirill of supporting the invasion of Ukraine and acting as a propagandist for Putin’s regime. Hungary repeatedly said it was against the blacklist, calling it an issue of religious freedom. euronews.com

  • EU Parliament Vice-President wants to revoke Hungary’s EU voting rights n-tv.de

EU parliament revokes Russian lobbyist badges. euobserver.com

Boost to EU aspirations: European liberal alliance backs membership for party of Ukrainian President Zelensky. euractiv.com

EU Council President accuses Russian troops of war crimes: Russia’s UN envoy storms out of Ukraine meeting over Charles Michel statement. euractiv.com

Criticising media coverage: Italy summons Russian ambassador over media criticism. euractiv.com

EU plans uniform minimum wage standards: An agreement for EU member states to ensure that minimum wages provide a decent standard of living has been struck by negotiators from the member states and Parliament. Under the proposals any government wishing to check whether their minimum wage is adequate could use a basket of goods or services, or set the level at 60% of gross median wage and 50% of gross average wage. „The new rules on minimum wages will protect the dignity of work and make sure that work pays,“ said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. bbc.com

Green and digital: EU Commission presents budget plan for 2023. handelsblatt.com

EU to back Polish post-pandemic aid plan: The EU approved Poland’s request for 36 billion euros in post-pandemic aid as it strives to show unity in the bloc for one of its strongest supporters of Ukraine since Russia’s invasion. The financing will support the implementation of the investment and reform measures outlined in Poland’s recovery and resilience plan. The EU decision should be seen as a gesture of goodwill, rather than proof the government in Warsaw has done enough to resolve its dispute with the bloc over the rule of law, according to an EU diplomat. bloomberg.com, ec.europa.eu

  • Poland not at end of road on rule of law, says EU’s von der Leyen reuters.com
  • Powerful PiS leader to resign from government post euractiv.com

EU Commissioner defends proposal to fight child abuse: Civil rights activists as well as the German government expressed criticism of the EU Commission’s proposal on chat control. They see it as an attempt to scan all communication on the internet, including encrypted messages, and fear mass surveillance. EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson, on the other hand, defended the draft: Companies would first have to analyse how great the risk is that child pornography is shared on their sites. If necessary, the sites would have to take countermeasures. If this was not sufficient, a so-called „detection order“ to scan content could be issued by a court or another independent authority. heise.de

EU Parliament votes this Wednesday on banning combustion engines from 2035: The European Parliament’s Environment Committee has voted in favour of the EU Commission’s proposed de facto ban on internal combustion engines from 2035 for new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles in the European Union as part of the “Fit for 55” climate package. The plenary of the EU Parliament is to vote on the Environment Committee’s bill this Wednesday. electrive.com

Faulty medical masks: European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly confirms finding of maladministration. euractiv.com

Denmark to join EU defence policy: Denmark will join the EU’s defence policy after a referendum last week. Denmark is the only EU member that is not part of the bloc’s defence and security policy. The referendum marks the first time a government has succeeded in abolishing one of several exemptions secured in a 1993 referendum on the Maastricht Treaty. reuters.com

Euro area unemployment at 6.8% ec.europa.eu
Italian minister raises idea of new European migration policy. euractiv.com
Parliament, Council seal provisional deal on agricultural statistics reform. euractiv.com
Council of Europe: Governments must increase transparency on lobbying. euractiv.com
Turkey persistently further from EU values and standards. europarl.europa.eu

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

„I know that some of you are sceptical, but let me reassure you that no money will be disbursed until these reforms are undertaken.“

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has defended her controversial decision to approve Poland’s €35-billion recovery plan, arguing the judicial reforms that Brussels has imposed serve as „leverage“ to restore the rule of law. euronews.com

NATION

Boris Johnson survives but is weakened by no-confidence vote: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has survived a confidence vote by members of his own party – but the final count of lawmakers who rebelled against him was far higher than his supporters expected. After a tidal wave of recent criticism – which included illegal, lockdown-breaking parties thrown in his Downing Street offices – Johnson squeaked by with 211 votes to 148 in a secret ballot on Monday. cnn.com

  • Time to draw a line under Partygate, Boris Johnson tells cabinet bbc.com
  • EU Parliament Vice-President Barley criticises Johnson spiegel.de
  • Four-day workweek: UK launches world’s largest trial fortune.com

Sweden’s justice minister survives confidence vote: Sweden’s parliament, the Riksdag, was holding a no-confidence vote against Justice Minister Morgan Johansson as he was blamed for failing to quash rising violence. Johansson can stay as justice minister with the support of 174 lawmakers, while 97 voted no, 70 abstained and 8 were absent, according to Swedish broadcaster SVT. Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson had said that she would resign if her Social Democrat minority government lost the confidence vote. dw.com, euronews.com

Trial resumes into murder of Dutch crime reporter: Two men have gone on trial in the Netherlands over the murder of celebrity crime reporter Peter R. de Vries. The 64-year-old was fatally wounded after being gunned down on an Amsterdam street in broad daylight on 6 July last year. His killing triggered a nationwide outpouring of grief and prompted the Dutch government to step up its crackdown on organised and violent crime. euronews.com

Paris police use tear gas on stranded rail passengers: Several long-distance trains to Reims, Strasbourg and Metz were cancelled on Saturday evening due to severe storms. Several local trains were also unable to run due to power cuts. Paris Police Prefect Didier Lallemant confirmed that people had gathered at the Gare de l’Est in front of replacement buses. The police used tear gas to disperse the crowd. According to the police prefecture, the crowd did not respect the order to give priority to women and children. faz.net

  • Three police officers in custody after fatal shooting in Paris time.news
  • Man charged over mystery needle attacks in France cbsnews.com
  • Left-wing politician Mélenchon puts Macron under pressure handelsblatt.com
  • Record inflation hot topic ahead of French legislative elections euractiv.com

Poland: Outrage over new ‚pregnancy register‘ on the back of near-total abortion ban. euronews.com

Erdogan rejects future meetings with Greek politicians: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has cancelled a bilateral agreement on joint strategic consultations. There will also be no more meetings with Greek leaders because they are not honest, Erdogan said in a speech to the parliamentary group of his party in the Turkish parliament. Greece and Turkey are neighbours and NATO partners; they repeatedly accuse each other of airspace violations over the Aegean Sea. berliner-zeitung.de

Croatia can introduce the euro next year: Croatia is set to adopt the euro currency from the start of 2023 after meeting all the criteria to join the eurozone, the EU Commission announced Wednesday. Joining the single currency „will make Croatia’s economy stronger, bringing benefits to its citizens, businesses and society at large,“ European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement. dw.com

Slovenia wants to orient itself more towards the West: Around six weeks after the parliamentary election, Prime Minister Robert Golob has taken office. The new government is to be expanded to 20 ministers. The future Foreign Minister and former MEP Tanja Fajon said that Slovenia would orientate its European policy more towards Western EU states instead of Hungary and Poland. faz.net

Netherlands and Germany to develop new gas field in the North Sea: The Netherlands and Germany will jointly develop and exploit a new gas field in the North Sea to help secure gas supply as Europe tries to wean itself off Russian fossil fuels, the Dutch government said on Wednesday. reuters.com

EU accepts German government’s proposals for designation of nitrate-polluted areas: This could resolve a decades-long dispute with the EU Commission. n-tv.de

Germany probes 3 Deutsche Bahn employees after Bavaria train crash dw.com
Spain fights food waste with supermarket fines and doggy bags theguardian.com
Queen’s Platinum Jubilee: Best pictures of the Jubilee so far as royal fans come out to celebrate Queen’s 70-year reign news.sky.com
Severe storms: 30,000 households in Austria without electricity tagesspiegel.de
Albania: Army chief voted in as new president reuters.com
Vienna: Growing concern over Iranian nuclear programme de.euronews.com
Slovakia: Nuclear energy limits renewables growth euractiv.com

NUMERS

EU agrees 40% quota for women on corporate boards: After 10 years of stalemate over the proposals, EU lawmakers hailed a “landmark” deal for gender equality. As well as the legally binding target, companies could also be fined for failing to recruit enough women to their non-executive boards and see board appointments cancelled for non-compliance with the law. theguardian.com

AT LEAST

Prince Edward and Sophie of Wessex’s plane makes surprise U-turn following technical issue: A British Airways plane heading towards Gibraltar with the Earl and Countess of Wessex on board has made a surprise U-turn back to Heathrow Airport due to a “minor technical issue”. The „Telegraph“ reports that the Spanish government has protested to the UK over the Wessexes’ visit to Gibraltar as it comes amid continued post-Brexit talks about the country’s future with the EU. Gibraltar is a British overseas territory, but has a land border with Spain. Last year, both the British and Spanish government said more time was needed to come to an agreement over Gibraltar’s future relationship with the EU. news.yahoo.com, telegraph.co.uk