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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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Britain bids farewell to the Queen, NATO, EU and US denounce Russian referendum plans, EU approves further aid for Ukraine
European Circle in week 38, 2022
curated by Nina von Schweinitz

EUROPE

Britain bids farewell to the Queen: Royal family members and dignitaries gathered at Westminster Abbey on Monday for a somber service. Presidents, prime ministers, princes and princesses, and other public figures sat side-by-side to pay their last respects. “The grief of this day, felt not only by the late Queen’s family but all round the nation, the Commonwealth and the world, arises from her abundant life and loving service – now gone from us,” said the archbishop of Canterbury in his sermon. Later in the evening, in a private burial, Elizabeth II was interred alongside her husband of 73 years, the Duke of Edinburgh, in the King George VI Memorial Chapel. cnn.com

Queen’s death both challenge and reprieve for new UK leader: The death of Queen Elizabeth II has put everyday politics in the UK on hold as the country plunged into an emotional mourning period. British Prime Minister Liz Truss took office less than two weeks ago, after winning the Conservative Party leadership contest. Truss‘ new Conservative administration is untested and unpopular, according to opinion polls. She leads a Britain still finding its place in the world after turning its back on its largest trading partner, the EU. apnews.com, nbcnews.com

  • No US trade deal on the horizon, admits Truss. theguardian.com
  • Truss and Macron pledge to improve energy cooperation. reuters.com

NATO, EU and US denounce Russian referendum plans: Russian-installed leaders in occupied areas of four Ukrainian regions on Tuesday set out plans for referendums on joining Russia. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg decried the plans for what he called “sham” referendums, warning President Vladimir Putin against further escalating the conflict. „The Russians can do whatever they want. It will not change anything,“ Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said. reuters.com, bloomberg.com

  • EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell threatens Russia with new sanctions.
  • Estonia considering tank deliveries in the event of annexation. zeit.de

EU approves further aid for Ukraine: The Council of the EU formally adopted the decision to provide 5 billion euros of additional assistance to Ukraine. This financial assistance complements other EU support to Ukraine in the humanitarian, development, customs and defence fields. The EU wants to help ensure that the Ukrainian state and its key infrastructure can continue to function despite Russia’s war of aggression. consilium.europa.eu

  • Hungary against further EU sanctions. tagesschau.de
  • With the help of the EU Commission, a total of 14 million tonnes of agricultural products have been exported from Ukraine so far. handelsblatt.com
  • Putin praises Serbia and meets Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik. apnews.com
  • Bulgaria tenders for gas supplies to ride out energy crisis. reuters.com
  • Belgium turning off public lights amid energy crisis. faz.net
  • Dutch government to impose price cap on energy. reuters.com
  • The EU should be careful about capping gas prices, warns German minister. euronews.com

Germany in deal for Slovenia to send tanks to Ukraine. abcnews.go.com

EU agency warns that pandemic is far from over: The European Medicines Agency said that although infections and death rates were down, the COVID-19 pandemic was still ongoing and that a planned vaccination campaign would gather pace as winter approaches. The announcement came as US President Joe Biden recently declared the pandemic „over.“ dw.com

EU’s unanimity rules are here for now: After a meeting of EU affairs ministers in Brussels, Mikulas Bek, the European affairs minister for the Czech Republic, which currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency, said he only foresaw limited progress by year’s end on the issue. In recent months, many of the EU’s biggest powers have thrown their weight behind a movement to reform the EU’s decision-making process. At the center of the conversation is the EU’s unanimity rule, which means every country must agree before the bloc can make a decision. politico.eu

ECB will raise rates until inflation falls back: European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said the bank would raise its interest rates until inflation falls back to its 2% target, in her strongest commitment to date to fighting inflation, which hit 8.6% in the euro zone last month, despite growing fears of a recession in the bloc as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. reuters.com

Uganda condemns EU resolution slamming oil pipeline: An EU Parliament resolution urged the international community to exert pressure on Ugandan and Tanzanian authorities to stop the construction of a pipeline in Tanzania and Uganda. Parliament said that some landowners had their homes destroyed to facilitate the construction of access roads or the processing plant, others have had all or part of their land requisitioned. It expressed concern about the human rights violations in Uganda and Tanzania linked to investments in fossil-fuel projects. Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, however, reaffirmed his determination to have the project completed. euronews.com

European Court of Auditors appoints Irish technocrat as new president: Tony Murphy takes over from Klaus-Heiner Lehne, who has served as president since October 2016. Lehne, a former German MEP, had come under pressure over alleged misuse of funds, for which he had to defend himself in front of the European Parliament’s budgetary control committee. politico.eu

Crisis preparedness: EU proposes emergency powers to prevent supply chain crisis. reuters.com
Taxonomy: Greenpeace takes legal action against the EU’s gas and nuclear greenwashing. greenpeace.org
Cancer: Brussels unveils new guidelines to boost screenings and reduce inequalities in EU. euronews.com
Foreign policy: European and African local authorities renew EU partnership for sustainable development. euractiv.com

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

„The intention to shift Ukraine’s borders is completely unacceptable and a clear violation of the UN Charter and Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.“

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has criticised the plans of Russian-controlled regions in eastern Ukraine to hold referendums on joining Russia. zeit.de

NATION

German data retention rules not compatible with EU law: The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that data retention in Germany is not compatible with EU law. Internet and phone service providers may not store citizens‘ communications data without cause. Limited data retention is only permissible under certain strict conditions, including fighting a severe threat to national security. dw.com

Meta suffers setback in EU attack of German antitrust order: Competition authorities probing a company over alleged abuses of a dominant position are justified to also consider other rules, such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation in the course of an investigation, ECJ Advocate General Athanasios Rantos said in a non-binding opinion. Facebook’s challenge of a German antitrust decision is viewed as a test of how far antitrust regulators can go to make sure Silicon Valley firms don’t mishandle massive data sets gleaned from users to cement their market power. bloomberg.com

Hungary government submits first anti-graft bill to avoid losing EU funds: The Hungarian government has submitted the first of several anti-corruption bills to parliament as Budapest scrambles to avoid losing billions of euros in EU funding. The EU Commission had recommended suspending funds worth 7.5 billion euros for what it sees as Hungary’s failure to combat corruption and uphold the rule of law. reuters.com

Sweden’s right-wing parties get formal go-ahead to start coalition talks: The leader of Sweden’s third largest party – the centre-right Moderates – was formally asked to try and form a new government on Monday by the speaker of parliament. That new government will likely include the far-right anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats either as a formal coalition partner or providing support to the government. In Sweden’s closely-fought election, the country’s right-wing parties secured 176 seats in the Riksdag; while left-wing parties combined only got 173 seats. euronews.com

Germany’s Uniper nationalisation deal expected: The German government is expected to announce an agreement on nationalising ailing gas importer Uniper this Wednesday, a source familiar with the talks told Reuters. Uniper, Germany’s largest Russian gas importer, said last week that the government could take a controlling stake in the company as it seeks further aid, paving the way for what could result in a full nationalisation of the firm. reuters.com

Pelosi condemns Azerbaijan’s attacks on Armenia: US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed strong support for Armenia on Sunday and condemned illegal and deadly attacks by Azerbaijan on its neighbour, openly taking sides in a dispute where American officials have been careful to mediate discreetly. Pelosi travelled to Armenia to meet with the country’s prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, after fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan erupted last week, resulting in the deaths of more than 180 people. nytimes.com

Liz Truss meeting with Irish PM raises hopes Brexit talks with EU will resume: Hopes that talks between the UK and the EU will resume over a protracted dispute about the Brexit arrangements in Northern Ireland have risen after a 45-minute meeting between Liz Truss and the Irish prime minister in Downing Street on Sunday morning. theguardian.com

Gunman holds 12 people hostage at bank in Georgia: A gunman is holding a dozen people hostage at a bank in Georgia, police said. Georgian media report that the man, who is yet to be identified, is demanding $2 million, a helicopter to leave the country and a Russian flag. Georgian police have opened a probe on multiple charges, including terrorism, and said an effort to release hostages was underway. euronews.com

Italy election: Apathy and anxiety among crowds in Rome as snap vote looms. euronews.com
France: Macron’s party officially changes name to Renaissance. brusselstimes.com
Serbia: Police arrest dozens as Belgrade EuroPride marchers defy ban. theguardian.com
Migration: Ship with almost 400 migrants allowed to dock in Italy. merkur.de
Aerospace, the final frontier: Resurrecting Italy’s declining industry. euronews.com
Hackers publish sensitive data on political assassination plots in Albania, Kosovo. euractiv.com

NUMERS

The European Commission called for an estimated 7.5 billion euros in European funds to be withheld from Hungary over corruption concerns. euronews.com

AT LEAST

Trudeau’s team defends singing Bohemian Rhapsody before Queen’s funeral: In a video shared on social media, the Canadian prime minister can be seen singing Bohemian Rhapsody by the British rock band Queen, two days before Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral. Critics accused the PM of a lack of respect – but others defended him. bbc.com