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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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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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Key EU parliament groups reject green label for gas, nuclear, ECB ends bond buys, signals rate hikes, EU looking to Israel to help it reduce energy reliance on Russia
European Circle in week 24, 2022
curated by Nina von Schweinitz

EUROPE

Key EU parliament groups reject green label for gas, nuclear: Members of the environment and economy committees supported a cross-party objection to the European Commission’s proposal for the two technologies to be included in its so-called taxonomy. The EU Commission’s proposal to label gas and nuclear as sustainable – as long as they receive construction permits by 2035 and 2045, respectively, and respect strict emissions criteria – was highly controversial. time.com

ECB ends bond buys, signals rate hikes: The European Central Bank has confirmed that it will end a long-running bond buying scheme on 1 July and signalled a string of interest rate hikes from July as it battles stubbornly high inflation. reuters.com

EU looking to Israel to help it reduce energy reliance on Russia: The EU, Israel and Egypt are set to sign a memorandum of understanding on Wednesday, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, according to which Israel will export natural gas in a pipeline to Egypt, where it will be turned into liquefied natural gas (LNG) then delivered to EU member states. reuters.com

NATO says Ukraine needs more weapons: The West needs to send Ukraine „more heavy weapons“ as it battles Russia’s „brutal invasion,“ NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said. NATO was already „stepping up“ deliveries and officials would be meeting in Brussels on Wednesday to coordinate further support. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will travel to Kyiv this Thursday alongside French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, according to media reports. dw.com, politico.eu

NATO needs greater readiness, more weapons: NATO must build out „even higher readiness“ and strengthen its weapons capabilities along its eastern border in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Stoltenberg said ahead of a NATO summit in Madrid at the end of the month. „In Madrid, we will agree a major strengthening of our posture,“ he said. reuters.com

European court rules Russia’s ‚foreign agent‘ law violates rights. reuters.com

Russia blacklists UK journalists over Ukraine coverage: Prominent reporters with the BBC, broadcaster Sky News, as well as The Guardian and The Financial Times were among those who have been banned entry to Russia. dw.com

Flight of asylum seekers from UK to Rwanda is halted: Last-minute legal challenges on Tuesday grounded a flight that was scheduled to take asylum seekers from Britain to Rwanda. A ruling by the European Court of Human Rights effectively halted the deportations, dealing a significant blow to a new migration plan outlined by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose government has been embarrassed by the arrival of asylum seekers crossing into Britain from France on small boats. nytimes.com

Ireland criticises fundamental breach of trust between EU and UK: Irish head of state Micheál Martin has said Boris Johnson’s bill, which allows the UK to ignore major parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol, is not well thought out and „doesn’t match realities on the ground“. irishexaminer.com

Scotland leader launches campaign for new independence vote: Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon launched her campaign for a second independence referendum on Tuesday, arguing that Scotland would be economically better off outside the United Kingdom. “After everything that has happened — Brexit, COVID, Boris Johnson — it is time to set out a different and better vision,” she said as she released the first in a series of government papers laying out the arguments for independence. apnews.com

Grenfell anniversary: Westminster Abbey bell tolls 72 times for victims. theguardian.com

Epstein scandal: Prince Andrew a no-show at major royal event after Charles insisted he be banned. nypost.com

Four-day workweek trial starts in UK with 70 companies. washingtonpost.com

EU Parliament supports end of EU unanimity: The Parliament overwhelmingly approved a resolution imploring EU leaders to convene a European Convention in order to amend the European Treaties “urgently.” Their goal: Make revisions that would repeal rules requiring EU unanimity on certain decisions, including imposing sanctions. politico.eu

‘Everywhere. Everything. Everyone’: Drugs are back in the EU. apnews.com
Big Tech points finger to governments for driving surveillance technology demand: Google, Meta and Microsoft called on governments to stop investing in surveillance companies and curb the growing use of sophisticated software like Pegasus. euractiv.com
Irregular migrant border crossings on the rise, Frontex says. euobserver.com
EU levy for Netflix and Meta could come as early as 2023. golem.de
EU funds for Palestine will be disbursed rapidly. politico.eu

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

„We are fully committed to presenting a proposal to change course on pesticides.“

Food safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides stood by the EU Commission’s plans to revise the EU’s pesticide framework but stopped short of committing to a date to publish its proposal after ten member states wrote a letter expressing “serious doubts”. euractiv.com

NATION

Whisky War: Canada and Denmark settle dispute over uninhabited Arctic island: The two countries agreed to divide a small, 1.2 square-kilometre uninhabited island. The agreement ends a nearly 50-year-long dispute between the two NATO allies. Since the 1980s, scientists, researchers and explorers have visited the island, alternatively removing the others‘ flag and leaving their own respective one. The Danish minister of Greenlandic affairs raised a Danish flag on the island in 1984 after Canada had done the same, leaving a bottle of whiskey. The Danish minister responded in kind by burying a bottle of Danish schnapps at the base of the flagpole. dw.com

Germany to protect Gazprom Germania from insolvency: The German government said on Tuesday that it will place Gazprom Germania into long-term administration and provide it with a loan of up to €10 billion to stop the company from going insolvent. The subsidiary of the Russian gas giant Gazprom was taken under temporary administration following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. dw.com

Antisemitic sculpture can stay on German church: Germany’s high court ruled against a Jewish man’s bid to remove a 700-year old antisemitic sculpture from the side of a church in the eastern city of Wittenberg on Tuesday. dw.com

Study finds German Catholic priests sexually abused over 600 victims: At least 610 children were documented as having been sexually abused by Catholic priests between 1945 and 2020 in the diocese of the west German city of Münster, according to a study released Monday. Researchers believe the true number of victims could be much higher – up to between 5,000 and 6,000 more victims – due to unreported cases. edition.cnn.com

German antitrust watchdog probes Apple’s app privacy framework: A major privacy feature Apple launched last year, called App Tracking Transparency (ATT) — which requires third-party apps to request permission from iOS users to track their digital activity for ad targeting — is facing another antitrust probe in Europe. techcrunch.com

Austria introduces massive aid package in fight against inflation: Chancellor Karl Nehammer called the move a „historic step“ that will be imperative to the most disadvantaged. Eurozone inflation is currently at 8.1%, and experts have warned that it could remain that high for some time. dw.com

Macron fights to save his parliamentary majority: In the first round of voting in the French parliamentary election, President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist alliance and the NUPES coalition led by the hardleft veteran Jean-Luc Melenchon each won 26% of the vote. It is the second round on 19 June that will determine the division of seats. Several Melenchon allies accused Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin of manipulating the count by not including some candidates who had publicly said they supported the left-wing alliance within the bloc’s tally. reuters.com

Dispute with the EU: Poland has legally implemented a reform of the controversial disciplinary system for judges. faz.net

Turkey’s Erdogan warns Greece to demilitarise Aegean islands: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned Greece to demilitarise islands in the Aegean Sea, saying he was “not joking” and posting tweets in Greek and English, in a marked harshening of rhetoric against Turkey’s neighbour and historic regional rival. washingtonpost.com

Defamation case: Court proceedings against former Italian interior minister Salvini. faz.net
Italy’s right makes gains in local vote, Salvini suffers referendum flop. reuters.com
Rioting and sexual harassment by young North Africans in Italy. derstandard.at
Nightclub needle attacks puzzle European authorities. npr.org

NUMERS

EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides signed an agreement to purchase around 110,000 doses of a vaccine to be used for monkeypox, on behalf of member states, she announced on Tuesday. euractiv.com

AT LEAST

Talking trash bins in Swedish town Malmo to discourage people from littering: Two rubbish bins on Davidshallsbron bridge in Sweden’s southern city have been equipped with loudspeakers and a recorded voice. A sensual female voice utters phrases such as „ooooh, right there yeah“ or „aaaah, that was crazy good“ each time the bin is fed with litter. euronews.com