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EU countries evacuate citizens from Israel, EU aid for earthquake victims in Afghanistan, Agreement on EU power market reform in sight
European Circle in week 41, 2023
curated by Nina von Schweinitz


EU countries evacuate citizens from Israel: Following the large-scale attack on Israel by the radical Islamic Hamas movement, several EU countries are making efforts to evacuate their citizens. Germany will evacuate citizens from Israel on Thursday and Friday, the country’s Foreign Office announced. France’s government will evacuate its citizens with a special Air France flight. Romania already flew 346 of its citizens out of Israel on Saturday evening. Dozens of Bulgarians and Croats have also returned home.,

  • EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen: “It is terrorism in its most despicable form. Israel has the right to defend itself against such heinous attacks.”
  • French President Emmanuel Macron hints at Iran’s involvement in Hamas attacks.

EU aid to Palestinians will not be cancelled: EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said EU foreign ministers had unanimously condemned Hamas‘ terrorist attack on Israel and called for the release of hostages, the protection of civilians and the respect of international law. He also said that halting the EU’s support to the Palestinians would be a big mistake and the „best present we could give to Hamas.“ The overwhelming majority of EU states were in favour of continued support.,

  • US, UK, Germany, France and Italy declare support for Israel.
  • Solidarity rallies for Israel and the victims of the large-scale Hamas attack in many cities around the world.
  • EU urges Musk to tackle spread of disinformation on X after Hamas attack.

Zelensky compares Hamas assault on Israel to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned Hamas for its surprise assault on Israel and likened the attack to Russia’s invasion of his own country. In a speech to NATO, he also criticised Iran for its support of Hamas and Moscow.

  • Russia accuses US of ‚destructive‘ approach on Israeli–Palestinian war.

EU approves aid for earthquake victims in Afghanistan: Following the deadly earthquake that hit western Afghanistan last weekend, the EU will provide emergency humanitarian aid for an amount of €3.5 million, in order to address the most urgent needs of the affected population. Currently, the main needs are emergency shelter, medical relief items, and access to safe drinking water and sanitation in an area that has been recently affected by droughts.

Number of asylum applications in Europe could reach highest level since 2016: According to a German newspaper report, 801,459 asylum applications were filed in the EU+ since the start of the year until the beginning of October. This is the highest figure compared to the corresponding periods of the previous year since 2016.

Two thirds of EU citizens feel psychologically burdened by global crises: Events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia’s war on Ukraine and the climate crisis have further shaken the already unstable mental health situation in Europe, according to the EU Commission. However, only about one-third of respondents believe that those with mental illnesses receive as much care as people with physical symptoms.

More renewable energy in the EU: The Council of the EU has adopted the new Renewables Energy Directive to raise the share of renewable energy in the EU’s overall energy consumption to 42.5% by 2030 with an additional 2.5% indicative top up to allow the target of 45% to be achieved. Each member state will contribute to this common target.

Vaclav Havel rights prize awarded to Turkey’s jailed Osman Kavala: The Council of Europe on Monday awarded its top rights prize to jailed Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala, who has come under repeated attack from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Kavala was arrested in October 2017 and sentenced to life in 2022 for allegedly trying to topple Erdogan’s government.

RefuelEU aviation initiative: Council of the EU adopts new law to decarbonise the aviation sector
Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform (STEP): Legislators approve new EU tech fund
EU Parliament’s environment committee: Hoekstra and Sefcovic approved for top EU climate jobs by parliament committee
Air travel: EU lawmakers want to tackle inconsistent rules for airline carry-on luggage


„The Hamas attack on Israel has made it clear that Germany’s and Europe’s Iran policy is in shambles. Europe has allowed itself to be shown up by Iran.“

German politician Norbert Röttgen has sharply criticised the German government and the fact that Germany is still Iran’s largest trading partner in Europe.


Germany announces new aid for Ukraine: Berlin has unveiled a fresh support package for Ukraine worth around 1 billion euros. The German defence ministry said the programme covered air defence, weapons and ground vehicles. „With this new ‚winter package‘ we are further increasing the operational readiness of the Ukrainian armed forces in the coming months,“ said Defence Minister Boris Pistorius. Ukrainian special forces would also be supported with vehicles, weapons as well as unspecified equipment worth more than 20 million euros to increase their capabilities.

  • Romania promises more military aid for Ukraine.
  • Bulgaria arrests 12 people for violating EU sanctions on exports to Russia.

Russia is defeated in its bid to return to the UN Human Rights Council: Russia was competing against Albania and Bulgaria for two seats on the Geneva-based Human Rights Council representing the East European regional group. In the secret ballot vote, Bulgaria got 160 votes, Albania received 123 votes and Russia just 83 votes.

Germany and France keen to improve ties: France and Germany held a two-day cabinet retreat this week looking for ways to revitalise Europe’s economic potential. The primary topics were Franco-German concerns over Europe’s declining global competitiveness against the backdrop of rising energy prices and a major industrial transformation. French President Emmanuel Macron said he had very encouraging discussions with the German government on the European electricity reform the two countries have been fighting over, adding that talks should wrap up by the end of the month.,

France begins withdrawing its troops from Niger: French President Emmanuel Macron, who had sought to make a special ally of Niger, said in September that the troops would exit by the end of the year, complying with a demand by the coup leaders. The withdrawal of some 1,400 French troops had been demanded by Niger’s ruling generals shortly after they seized power at the end of July.

Finland and Estonia see likely sabotage in damage to pipeline and telecoms cable: Finland and Estonia said damage to a natural-gas pipeline and communications cable linking the two North Atlantic Treaty Organization members likely resulted from sabotage, rekindling concerns about the safety of Europe’s critical infrastructure. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said NATO was sharing its information over the damage and stands ready to support the allies concerned.,

Luxembourg’s prime minister faces exit after election defeat: Luxembourg’s center-right Christian Social People’s Party (CSV) emerged as the clear winner in Sunday’s general election, while Prime Minister Xavier Bettel’s ruling liberal coalition suffered major losses, failing to secure a clear majority. The results put the CSV in a strong position to lead a coalition government.

Poland’s top army generals quit ahead of key elections: The army’s Chief of General Staff, Gen Rajmund Andrzejczak, and Operational Commander Gen Tomasz Piotrowski gave no reason for their decision. Media reports say they are worried about attempts by the right-wing government to politicise the military ahead of Sunday’s general elections.

  • Before the election in Poland on Sunday: TV debate disappoints audience.

Protest against possible Catalan amnesty deal: Tens of thousands of people marched through Barcelona on Sunday to protest against a potential amnesty deal which Spain’s Socialists must strike over Catalonia’s 2017 separatist bid if they want to form a government. Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez needs the support of Catalan separatist parties Junts and Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, which want the unpopular amnesty in exchange for votes in parliament.

Former Hungarian president Laszlo Solyom died at age 81: Solyom was a member of the Constitutional Court from 1989 to 1998, served as its first President from 1990 to 1998, and was the third President of the Republic from 2005 to 2010.

UK: Brexit became Bregret – EU exit is not an election issue
Slovakia: Socialist party attacked journalists online before elections
Romania: Government to invest €2.1 billion in climate neutrality
Greece: Ruling New Democracy party dominates country’s local elections


Ireland’s new sovereign wealth fund for pensions and climate: Ireland detailed on Tuesday how it plans to turn some of Europe’s healthiest public finances into a 100 billion-euro sovereign wealth fund to ease future healthcare, pension and climate costs linked to its growing and aging population.


Glitter sales surge in Germany before EU microplastics ban this week: German reality TV personalities and influencers are reportedly driving a surge in sales of glitter and everything made with it, from nails to makeup, before an EU ban on loose glitter that is aimed at tackling pollution from microplastics.