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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 aid for earthquake victims in Morocco, State of the European Union, EU lawmakers clash over Tunisia migration deal
European Circle in week 37, 2023
curated by Nina von Schweinitz


EU aid for earthquake victims in Morocco: In response to the deadly earthquake of magnitude 6.8 that struck central Morocco on the night of 8 September, the EU is releasing an initial funding of one million euros in humanitarian aid to assist the most affected people. This funding aims to support the relief efforts carried out by humanitarian partners in the country. Countries including France, Germany, Italy and the United States, along with the United Nations, said they were waiting to provide any help they could after Friday’s devastating earthquake in the High Atlas Mountains. Meanwhile, hopes of finding survivors are fading. Hundreds are still missing.,

State of the European Union: This Wednesday, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will deliver the annual State of the Union address. During her hour-long speech before the EU Parliament in Strasbourg last year, Von der Leyen put forward quite a hefty list of legislative ideas and policy initiatives that she vowed to undertake in the following twelve months. Russia’s war on Ukraine was the main topic, but she brought more to the table: the energy crisis, the economy, fiscal rules, trade deals, corruption, migration and the defence of democracy all featured prominently in the president’s political pitch.

G20 summit avoids condemning Russia for Ukraine war: The Group of 20 adopted a consensus declaration at a summit on Saturday that avoided condemning Russia for the war in Ukraine but called on all states not to use force to grab territory. The consensus came as a surprise as G20 is deeply divided over the war in Ukraine, with Western nations earlier pushing for strong condemnation of Russia in the Leaders‘ Declaration, while others demanded a focus on broader economic issues.

US and EU back new India-Middle East transport corridor: The US and the EU have backed an ambitious plan to build an economic corridor linking Europe with the Middle East and India via rail and sea, a project that US President Joe Biden described as a “really big deal”. Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the project at the G20 leaders’ summit. Meanwhile, Italy has quit the Belt and Road Initiative and instead seeks to revitalise a strategic partnership agreement with China.,

Strengthening EU defence industry through common procurement: The EU Parliament wants to boost Europe’s defence industry with 300 million euros. The regulation establishes a short-term instrument for the reinforcement of the European defence industry through common procurement until 31 December 2025. It will help member states to fill their most urgent and critical defence needs, which have been exacerbated by transfers of defence products to Ukraine, in a voluntary and collaborative way.

  • European Commission looks to transform the bloc’s defence fund.
  • Poland calls on the EU to extend the embargo on Ukraine grain.
  • Romania builds air-raid shelters near Ukraine border.
  • Denmark announces largest ever aid package for Ukraine.
  • Sweden to consider sending fighter jets to Ukraine.
  • Austria to buy German Iris-T defence system.
  • Council of Europe justice ministers discussed Russia’s war crimes.

Austria’s former foreign minister moves to Russia: Former Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl will move to St. Petersburg to work at an academic centre there which she heads, the Russian TASS state news agency reported. Kneissl served as Austria’s foreign minister from 2017 to 2019, nominated for the position by the far-right Freedom Party. She has drawn criticism for her close links to the Russian president, who attended her wedding in 2018 in the Austrian Alps.,

EU lawmakers clash over Tunisia migration deal: In a heated debate during a plenary session in Strasbourg, MEPs from across the political spectrum claimed the number of migrants entering Europe from the North African country had increased since the agreement was signed in July. „The deal has only led to more repression, more deaths, and even more migration,“ Tineke Strik of the Greens group said.

EU Parliament raises renewable energy targets and strengthens consumer protection: European Union lawmakers gave their final approval on Tuesday to legally binding targets to expand renewable energy faster this decade, a central part of Europe’s plans to curb climate change and shift away from fossil fuels. In addition, consumers in the EU are to be better protected in the future when taking out loans. The Parliament voted in favour of measures to protect against credit card debt or unsuitable loans. Caps on fees will also be introduced.

EU’s disaster response fund at limit as climate crises mount: The European Commission warned on Tuesday that the EU urgently needs more funding to respond to climate change-fuelled crises after its emergency aid reserve was exhausted in both 2021 and 2022 and natural disasters have increased this year.

  • Spain to invest $12.85 bln to alleviate drought impact.

Iran confirms it arrested EU official: Iran on Tuesday confirmed the arrest of a Swedish citizen who works for the European Union, saying his case will soon be sent to court. Last week, the New York Times broke news that Swedish national and EU worker Johan Floderus had been detained in prison in Iran for more than 500 days. Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign affairs chief, confirmed Floderus’ arrest, saying he’s been working relentlessly to free him and will continue to push for his release.

Apple unveils iPhone with USB-C charger in line with EU law: Previous iPhone models had used Apple’s own „Lightning“ charger ports, but an EU law passed last year requires all devices to be compatible with USB-C. EU policymakers said the rule would simplify the lives of Europeans and do away with a mountain of obsolete chargers.,

EU’s €500m gender violence plan falls short, say auditors: The EU’s flagship programme with the United Nations to end violence against women worldwide has had little impact so far, says a European Court of Auditors report published on Monday.

Despite climate crisis: EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen used private jets 57 times within two years
New EU Commissioner: EU Parliament backs new innovation commissioner Iliana Ivanova
Navigation satellites: EU nears agreement to launch satellites from US territory


„I am worried about a social crisis.“

EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni worries about Europe’s social cohesion.


EU aid for Greece after deadly floods: The European Union is promising Greece more than 2 billion euros in financial support in the wake of massive summer wildfires and ongoing floods that have caused extensive damage across central Greece. Much of the central Greek farming belt remains flooded a week after storms killed at least 15 people, while large sections of the country’s main highway and rail network remain closed.

  • EU lawmakers want better prevention against forest fires.
  • Libya floods: Europe promises help, with thousands dead and missing.

UK arrests suspected Chinese spy: A British parliamentary researcher has been arrested on suspicion of spying for China. The Sunday Times reported that the man worked with senior Conservative Party lawmakers in a parliamentary group focused on China, and held a pass that allowed full access to the Parliament buildings. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak chided Chinese Premier Li Qiang over the alleged espionage when the two met at a Group of 20 summit in India on Sunday.

Italy’s Lampedusa island hit with record migrant arrivals: The Italian island is struggling with a record number of landings from boat migrants, local officials said on Tuesday, describing the situation as dramatic. The daily tally of migrant boats reaching Lampedusa has surpassed a previous record of 63 last month and is expected to hit around 80 by the end of the day, local police chief Emanuele Ricifari told Reuters.

Latvia registers record number of migrants at border with Belarus: Along with Poland, Latvia and Lithuania accuse Belarus of bringing migrants to the EU’s external border in an organised way to put pressure on the West. Guntis Pujats, head of the border guard, told Latvian televison that the large number of illegal border crossing attempts was fueled by what he called a state-sponsored international people smuggling operation by Belarus‘ longtime ruler Aleksander Lukashenko.

UK to use x-rays to check migrants‘ age: Officials will use X-rays and MRI scans to determine the age of asylum seekers falsely claiming to be unaccompanied children, the British government announced. Immigration minister Robert Jenrick wants to introduce scientific tests to determine the ages of arrivals as part of a package of measures being put before Parliament.

Climate activists block highway in The Hague: Dutch police on Sunday said more than 500 climate activists had been detained on a second consecutive day of protests against government subsidies for the fossil fuel industry. Hundreds of protesters marched on the A12 highway into The Hague around midday, ignoring warnings from authorities not to block the major traffic artery into the Dutch seat of government.

Polish campaign ad features Germany’s chancellor in an unfavorable light: In a new campaign spot by Poland’s conservative ruling party, party leader and Poland’s most powerful politician Jaroslaw Kaczynski pretends to reject a call from German Chancellor Olaf Scholz suggesting that Poland should raise the retirement age, which is one of the topics of a voter referendum taking place at the same time as the election.

EU Commission cuts euro zone growth forecast as Germany in recession: The euro zone economy will grow slower than previously expected this year and next, the European Commission forecast on Monday as consumer demand suffers from high inflation and the biggest economy, Germany, slips into recession this year.

People in Catalonia call for independence: Thousands of Catalan independence supporters took to the streets of central Barcelona on Monday in a march to mark the Spanish region’s National Day, just as separatist parties take centre stage in efforts to form a national government.

Court confirms charges against Bosnian Serb leader Dodik: A court in Bosnia said Monday it has confirmed an indictment against Bosnian Serb separatist leader Milorad Dodik on charges of defying the top international envoy overseeing peace in the Balkan country. Dodik has rejected the charges and sought to present them as an attack on the Serb entity in Bosnia.

Catholic Church in Switzerland covered up abuse: A sweeping, year-long study of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and others in Switzerland published Tuesday has turned up more than 1,000 cases since the mid-20th century, as the Swiss church becomes the latest in Europe to reckon with the abuse scandal.

Greek shipping minister resigns following comments over ferry death: Greece’s shipping minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis has resigned following a controversy over his comments about the death last Tuesday of a 36-year-old man who had fallen into the sea after being pushed back by crew members of a ship he was trying to board. The man’s death sparked outrage and protests in Greece and Varvitsiotis faced a backlash for appearing to sympathise with the crew members on Greek television.

Spain: National Court admits Spanish prosecutor’s complaint against former soccer chief Luis Rubiales
Norway: Labour loses first local election in 99 years to right-wing
Ireland and UK to work on new energy links


The European Parliament is set to grow by 15 seats.


Venice to trial ticketing system for tourists: Venice will trial a ticketing system from spring next year, with day visitors charged €5 to enter the Italian city’s historic centre in an attempt to reduce tourist numbers. The city’s council executive backed the move on Tuesday, just weeks after Unesco recommended Venice be added to its list of world heritage sites in danger, in part due to the impact of mass tourism.