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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 discuss Niger coup fallout, Russia-ties scandal rocks Estonia, Poland files lawsuit against EU climate policies
European Circle in week 35, 2023
curated by Nina von Schweinitz


Poland, Latvia and Lithuania might close Belarus border: The three countries, which share a border with Belarus, have been increasingly concerned about border security since hundreds of Russian Wagner mercenaries arrived in Belarus at the invitation of President Alexander Lukashenko. The countries have also seen an increase in the number of mainly Middle Eastern and African migrants trying to cross the border in recent months and accuse Belarus of facilitating them.

  • Funeral of Wagner chief Prigozhin held in closed format in St Petersburg.
  • After Wagner chief death, Russia vows to keep helping Mali.

Estonia’s president faces more heat amid probe of husband’s Russia business ties: Prime Minister Kaja Kallas is facing growing criticism after Estonian media reports revealed her husband’s business ties to Russia, which will now be discussed by a parliamentary committee. Estonian President Alar Karis said Monday that the scandal diminished Estonia’s credibility in its interaction with allies.

  • Swedish man charged with passing hi-tech equipment to Russia.
  • Vatican seeks to tamp down outrage over pope’s words of praise for Russian imperial past.

Erdogan to meet Putin to discuss grain deal: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russia next week to discuss reviving the Black Sea grain deal. The UN- and Turkey-brokered deal lasted a year but ended last month after Moscow quit. Turkey is seeking to persuade Russia to return to the agreement, under which Odesa’s seaports shipped tens of millions of tons of grain.

Wopke Hoekstra proposed as EU Commissioner for climate action: EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced that she had interviewed Dutch foreign minister Hoekstra and would now propose that EU member states and the European Parliament formally approve his candidacy. The Dutch government nominated Hoekstra for the commission last week, after the Netherlands‘ previous commissioner Frans Timmermans stepped down to return to national politics.

EU to discuss Niger coup fallout: After the recent Niger coup, EU foreign and defence ministers this week are expected to discuss a strategy to deal with the situation and reassess the bloc’s approach to the Sahel region, according to an internal memo seen by „Euractiv“.

France defies ultimatum for ambassador to leave Niamey: France’s ambassador has remained in Niger despite being given a 48-hour deadline to leave the country last Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed in a defiant speech. Ambassador Sylvain Itte had been ordered to go amid rapidly deteriorating bilateral ties.

Poland files lawsuit against EU climate policies: The EU’s recently adopted climate legislation was not properly assessed, exceeded Brussels’ authority and now threatens Poland’s economy as well as energy security, legal arguments published by Warsaw contend. But observers in Brussels and Warsaw believe that the case has little chance of succeeding, citing a legal precedent set a few years ago in which the EU Court of Justice rejected a similar lawsuit by Poland against the EU carbon market.

EU economy returns to trade surplus: The trade balance between the European Union and the rest of the world has returned to surplus after six consecutive quarters of deficit. The shift took place in the second quarter of this year when the bloc registered a modest surplus of €1 billion, according to a new report released by Eurostat.

Britain delays post-Brexit border checks on EU goods: The British government will delay imposing full post-Brexit import controls on goods from the EU by a further three months. Britain left the EU’s single market in January 2021 and has delayed full implementation of border controls several times due to worries about disruption at ports and the risk of adding to a cost-of-living crisis.

  • UK faces September deadline on Horizon Europe funding.

EU must be ready to accept new members by 2030 – Charles Michel: The European Union must be ready to enlarge by 2030 if it wants to remain credible, European Council President Charles Michel said Monday at the Bled Strategic Forum in Slovenia. In response, a European Commission spokesperson said Tuesday that enlargement is a merit-based process, and that „candidates should join the European Union when they are ready.“

EU deployment planned in the Gulf of Guinea in Africa: European Union member states have agreed to begin a mission in the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa, with police and soldiers deployed to Ghana, Togo, Benin and Ivory Coast, German media reported. According to German newspaper Die Welt am Sonntag, the mission will aim to train and advise local security forces, help prepare for anti-terror operations, give technical support and implement confidence-building measures in the security sector.

ECB’s Lagarde says interest rates to stay high as long as needed to defeat inflation: While progress is being made, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said, the fight against inflation is not yet won. The central bank has raised its benchmark rate from minus 0.5% to 3.75% in one year — the fastest such pace since the euro was launched in 1999.

Foreign influence: Meta uncovers world’s largest spam campaign to boost China
Herring is becoming scarce: EU wants to significantly reduce fishing quotas for the Baltic Sea
European Court of Human Rights: Bosnia and Herzegovina elections „undemocratic“
EU accession: Albania sceptical of EU chief’s enlargement push


„We have to behave responsibly. We have to engage more with all stakeholders and we have to work hard to make sure that we manage these three overarching goals: be socially fair, tackle climate change and make our industry competitive.“

EU Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic predicts implementing green legislation will be a hard task for the 27 member states.


Five dead after migrant boat sinks off Greek islands: Five people, including four children, died and dozens were rescued Monday in two separate incidents involving migrant boats heading to Greek islands from nearby Turkish shores, Greek authorities said. For decades, Greece has been a preferred entry point into the European Union for people fleeing conflict or poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia and hoping for a better life in Europe.

  • „Ocean Viking“ brings hundreds of people to Naples.
  • Spain urges Mauritania to allow 168 migrants rescued at sea to disembark.
  • Italy’s Meloni convenes public safety body over migrant arrivals.

Cyprus police arrest 21 people after protesters tried to attack Syrian migrants: Police in Cyprus say they have arrested 21 people and used tear gas and a water cannon after a group of Greek Cypriots wearing hoods and brandishing bats tried to attack protesting Syrians in a small village that has been a hotbed of tensions between locals and migrants.

UK: Home Secretary Braverman does not rule out GPS tagging of Channel migrants.

France to ban the wearing of Islamic abayas in schools: France will ban schoolchildren from wearing abayas ahead of the upcoming academic year, the government has said. French Education Minister Gabriel Attal said the long, robe-like garments often worn by Muslim women wouldn’t be permitted in the nation’s schools from the new term, which starts in September. „You enter a classroom, you must not be able to identify the religion of the students by looking at them,“ Attal said.,

Arsonist in Greece confessed: Greek fire department officials arrested two men on Saturday for allegedly deliberately starting wildfires as hundreds of firefighters battle blazes that have been blamed for 21 deaths. One man was arrested on Evia for allegedly deliberately setting fire to dried grass in the island’s Karystos area. The fire department said the man confessed to having set four other fires in the area in July and August.

Germany agrees corporate tax cuts to stimulate economy: The German government agreed on a tax relief plan worth some 7 billion euros per year for companies in a bid to revive Europe’s largest economy. The programme would ease the burden on small and medium-sized enterprises, the government said in a statement. Germany has been hard-hit following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The conflict has seen German energy prices surge, after Berlin’s reliance on Moscow for gas was brought to a halt.

  • German Chancellor Scholz calls for German government to get along.

Berlin unveils plans for memorial to Polish victims of Nazis: The „German-Polish house“ memorial is to be built in Berlin at the site of the former Kroll Opera. It will be located next to the chancellor’s office and opposite the German lower house of parliament, the Bundestag.

British government criticises new environmental zone in London: The Ultra Low Emission Zone has been expanded to include all of London’s boroughs. Drivers must pay a charge of £12.50 per day to drive a non-compliant vehicle anywhere in the zone under the controversial clean-air plan. Transport Secretary Mark Harper said he would stop the rollout if he had the power to do so and highlighted his reservations about the true motives behind the expansion. London mayor Sadiq Khan denied that extending the zone was “anti-car” and accused Harper of factual errors.,

Romanian LGBT community slams government’s EU court challenge: The Romanian government’s appeal against a recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, which ordered Bucharest to provide legal protection and recognition for same-sex families in a case involving 21 same-sex couples, is shameful, the Accept Association said.

Hundreds of flights into Britain cancelled after technical issue with UK air traffic control
Switzerland: Personal data of the military police affected by hacker attack
France: Darmanin, potential successor to Macron, makes pitch to working class
Poland: Liberals invite former far-right deputy PM on election lists
Greece: Last-minute young candidate shakes race of leftist Syriza presidency
France extends life of last coal-fired plants to avoid winter shortfalls


A forest blaze in Greece is the largest wildfire ever recorded in the EU. So far, over 81,000 hectares have been burnt in Greece’s Alexandroupolis region.,


X will allow political ads again: The announcement comes after months of changes to the platform formerly known as Twitter and how it handles content moderation after Elon Musk took over the company last fall. Twitter first banned political ads in 2019, with then-CEO Jack Dorsey saying that “political message reach should be earned, not bought.”,