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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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Fire and flood in central and southern Europe, storm damage in northern Europe, EU sees room for mediation on Niger, Amazon states debate rainforest protection
European Circle in week 32, 2023
curated by Nina von Schweinitz


West African leaders to discuss Niger on Thursday: Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum was overthrown in a military coup on 26 July, and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had threatened possible military intervention if he was not restored by Sunday. Neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso, both run by juntas, have expressed their opposition to any use of force against the putschists. The ECOWAS states will discuss the situation in Niger this Thursday. The EU said on Monday it still saw some room for mediation in Niger. Italy has called on ECOWAS to extend its deadline for the reinstatement of Niger’s ousted president. Germany called for a diplomatic solution to the junta takeover in Niger.

  • US warns Niger against alliance with Russia.

Amazon summit debates joint preservation, development goals: The Amazon rainforest’s eight countries held a summit in Brazil on Tuesday for the first time in 14 years, with plans to reach a broad agreement on issues from fighting deforestation to financing sustainable development. Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has said that he hopes the summit will spur it to start taking far-reaching and effective action. Brazil and Colombia have pledged to stop deforestation completely by 2030, but other countries are reluctant to follow.

  • Brazilian government calls EU environmental requirements „excessive“.

Ukraine says it’s foiled assassination plot against Zelensky: An alleged informant for Russia has been detained in connection to a plot to assassinate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) said Monday. The detained woman has not been named publicly but is from the southern Ukrainian region of Mykolaiv. The SBU said she had been gathering intelligence about Zelensky’s planned visit to Mykolaiv at the end of July, in order to plan a Russian airstrike to kill the president.

  • EU urges G20 to help persuade Putin to reopen Ukraine grain export route.

Germany offers to extend Patriot missile deployment to Poland: Germany has offered to extend the deployment of three Patriot air defence units in Poland until the end of 2023. Together with three Patriot air defence units, some 300 German soldiers have been based in the Polish town of Zamosc near the Ukrainian border. The deployment was triggered by a stray Ukrainian missile that struck the Polish village of Przewodow in the region last November, in an incident that raised fears of the war in Ukraine spilling over the border.

  • Poland and Lithuania send additional troops to Belarusian border.
  • Ukraine and Poland discuss Wagner threat in Belarus.
  • Iceland, Hungary helped shelter Belarusian businessman from EU sanctions.
  • EU agrees to extend the scope of sanctions on Belarus.

Russia adds Norway to its list of unfriendly countries: Russia has added Norway to its list of “unfriendly countries” for allegedly targeting Russian diplomats abroad, further worsening its relations with the West. In April, Norway expelled 15 Russian diplomats after accusing them of carrying out intelligence activities under diplomatic cover. Russia retaliated by expelling 10 Norwegian diplomats.

Dozens of people missing after migrant ship sinks off Tunisian coast: At least four migrants died and 51 were missing after a migrant ship sank off Tunisia’s Kerkennah island, an official told Reuters on Sunday. The Tunisian coast guard recovered 901 bodies of drowned migrants off its coast from 1 January to 20 July this year, the country’s interior minister said in July, marking an unprecedented number of victims off the country’s coasts. Over the weekend, two boat accidents occurred off the Italian island of Lampedusa. The two boats had set off from the Tunisian port of Sfax and sank on their way to Europe, media reported. Tunisia is an important transit country for migrants trying to reach Europe via the dangerous Mediterranean route. The EU and Tunisia had concluded a comprehensive migration agreement in mid-July.,

  • Asylum-seekers board UK’s controversial ‘deathtrap’ housing barge.
  • Fines to rise sharply for illegal housing or employment of asylum seekers in UK.

Tunisian minister concedes migrants were pushed back into desert no man’s land: Tunisia’s interior minister Kamel Fekih conceded that small groups of sub-Saharan migrants trying to enter the country are pushed back into the desert border areas with Libya and Algeria, but rejected claims by the UN, humanitarian groups and migrants themselves of mistreatment.

TikTok’s algorithm will be optional in Europe: TikTok users in Europe will be able to switch off the personalised algorithm behind its For You and Live feeds as the company makes changes to comply with the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA). According to TikTok, disabling this function will show users popular videos from both the places where they live and around the world instead of content based on their personal interests.

Trade: EU’s hopes to make trade more sustainable, diversified before 2024
Tax haven Costa Rica wants to be removed from EU „gray list“
The end of the road for fast fashion? The EU hopes so
Electricity price: EU wants to tame energy prices


“Today we are also taking further measures against the Belarusian regime as an accomplice in Russia’s illegal and unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine.“

The EU has banned drone sales to Belarus and added prominent state TV presenters to its sanctions list over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Minsk’s crackdown on opposition, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.


Death toll from Slovenia flooding climbs to six: Soaring temperatures and autumn-like storms are igniting wildfires and flooding the streets of Europe this summer. The death toll from days of heavy rains and flooding in Slovenia has climbed to six, police said on Monday, as clean-up operations continued with help from neighbouring countries. Prime Minister Robert Golob has described the torrential rains and severe flooding that hit the Alpine country of two million as its worst natural disaster since independence three decades ago. Slovenia has asked for help from the EU.

Storm Hans causes havoc in Norway: A powerful storm has brought destruction to Norway, causing landslides and leaving an entire town stranded, as meteorologists warned of the strongest rainfall in a quarter of a century. The storm – named Storm Hans – has killed two people, ripped off roofs and caused widespread disruption across northern Europe in a summer that started with wildfires across much of the region. The storm hit Sweden late on Sunday and reached Norway on Monday, with parts of Denmark and Finland also affected.,

  • Wildfires in Portugal spread south, prompting evacuations.
  • Heat wave causes above-average number of deaths in southern Italy.

Taiwan’s TSMC to build semiconductor factory in Germany: Taiwanese chipmaker TSMC has approved a plan worth 3.47 billion euros to build a factory in the eastern German city of Dresden. German Chancellor Old Scholz called Intel’s investment in the facilities the biggest direct foreign investment in German history. And Habeck, who also serves as Germany’s vice chancellor, said the deal was an important contribution to growing European sovereignty.

Polish health minister resigns amid outcry over data breach: Polish Health Minister Adam Niedzielski quit after he disclosed the sensitive medical data of a doctor, sparking a public outcry and calls for his resignation two months before a tightly contested parliamentary election. Last week, Niedzielski published a post in social media detailing the type of drugs a doctor prescribed to himself after the physician had spoken about problems with issuing digital prescriptions for patients.

Italy slaps 40% one-off windfall tax on its banks: Italy’s cabinet has approved a 40% windfall tax on lenders’ excess profits in 2023. Sharply higher official interest rates have yielded record profits for banks, as the cost of loans soared while lenders held off paying more on deposits. Italian Deputy Prime Matteo Salvini told a press conference that the 40% levy on banks’ extra profits derived from higher interest rates, amounting to several billion euros, will be used to cut taxes and offer financial support to mortgage holders.,

Dozens injured after protesters storm Eritrean festival in Stockholm: More than 50 people were injured and dozens detained in Stockholm last week after opponents of the Eritrean government stormed an event in the Swedish capital organised by regime supporters. About 1,000 anti-government demonstrators who had been authorised to hold a protest nearby broke through a police barrier, tearing down festival tents and setting booths and vehicles on fire.

French police officers remain in custody over man’s death: Five police officers from the elite Raid unit were taken into custody on Tuesday morning in Marseille for questioning in the probe over the death of Mohamed Bendriss, prosecutors said. Two of the five were released in the early evening, the public prosecutor’s office announced. Bendriss‘ autopsy showed traces on his chest of what could be the impact of a shot from a blast ball and commonly used by the country’s police. France was convulsed in late June and early July by violent rioting over the killing outside Paris on June 27 of a teenager by a policeman during a traffic check.

Germany’s far-right AfD derides EU as a failed project: A text adopted by hundreds of party delegates at the event said the bloc failed on issues such as climate and immigration. The party also said it does not support the Euro as a currency. However, the text did not urge Germany to leave the EU. The AfD also did not call for the bloc to be dissolved entirely, as suggested by an earlier party draft in June.

  • French government warns of AfD as a threat to European stability.

This EU country is now the only one without a single female minister: Hungary this week became the only country in the European Union without a female minister as Judit Varga officially stepped down on Monday evening. Varga, who announced her resignation in late June to lead the ruling Fidesz party’s campaign for the June 2024 EU parliamentary election, has been serving as justice minister since 2019.

UK launches vaccine centre to help tackle new pandemic: A state-of-the-art vaccine research facility, where scientists will work to ensure future pandemics are stopped in their tracks and do not cause the same disruption to everyday life as Covid-19, has been unveiled by the British government. It is also hoped the facility will help the UK tackle “disease X” by enhancing preparedness for yet-to-be-identified pathogens with pandemic potential.

UK government cuts ties with group after protest at PM’s home: Government departments should cut ties with Greenpeace in the wake of last week’s protest at Rishi Sunak’s house, No 10 has said. Activists from the group scaled the prime minister’s home in his North Yorkshire constituency last Thursday during an anti-oil demonstration. Five people were arrested by police and released on bail pending further inquiries. Sunak’s office confirmed neither the prime minister nor his family, who are currently on holiday in the US, were present at the time.

Sweden: Man dies after shooting in Stockholm
Bulgaria: Tougher law against domestic violence
‘Rhodes is back!’: Greek PM offers free stay in 2024 to evacuated tourists
Finland is the most digital country in Europe
Norway fines Facebook owner Meta over privacy breaches


Last month saw the world’s hottest day: Global temperatures on 6 July 2023 reached 17.08C.


UK elections regulator hacked: The UK’s Electoral Commission said on Tuesday that it had been hacked by „hostile actors.“ The organization, which oversees the country’s elections, said its systems had been hacked for more than a year. The yearlong hack comes as election security has been targeted worldwide, with US officials finding Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election to help Donald Trump’s campaign and the UK accusing Russia of trying to interfere in the 2019 general election.