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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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Every Wednesday, the European Circle delivers an overview of the most important topics from the European Union and the European nations.

Newsletter

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EU Council President calls on US to implement climate commitments, French far-right MP excluded from parliament over racist comment, Radioactive leak found at French reactor
European Circle in week 45, 2022
curated by Nina von Schweinitz

EUROPE

EU Council President calls on US to implement climate commitments: The COP27 must be focused on implementation, Charles Michel said, urging countries to redouble their efforts to solve the challenge of a generation that is climate change. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres used the climate conference in Egypt to criticise oil and coal industry groups: “Using bogus ‘net zero’ pledges to cover up massive fossil fuel expansion is reprehensible. It is rank deception,” Guterres said. “This toxic cover-up could push our world over the climate cliff. The sham must end.”euronews.com, apnews.com

Michel speech to major China trade expo cancelled over censorship: A speech by the EU Council head scheduled to be broadcast at the opening of a major Chinese trade fair was abruptly cancelled due to wrangling over censorship, diplomats told AFP. The pre-recorded video address was meant to be shown at Friday’s opening of the China International Import Expo in Shanghai, but Michel’s spokesman and three Beijing-based diplomats confirmed it was not broadcast. Apparently Chinese authorities wanted to censor all parts of Michel’s speech about the Ukraine crisis, a sensitive issue for Beijing. euractiv.com

EU finance ministers want to quickly decide on 18 billion euros for Ukraine: This Wednesday, the EU Commission will propose a new 18 billion euro aid package to cover part of Ukraine’s financial needs for next year. The aid must also be approved by the EU Parliament. EU Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis said the decision is scheduled for 6 December. bloomberg.com

Ukraine wants grain deal expanded: Ukraine wants the Black Sea grain export deal expanded to include more ports and goods, and hopes a decision to extend the agreement for at least a year will be taken next week, Ukraine’s deputy infrastructure minister said. The deal, which eased a global food crisis by unblocking three major Ukrainian ports during Russia’s invasion, expires on 19 November and briefly appeared imperilled last month when Moscow suspended its participation in the deal before rejoining again. reuters.com

Turkey continues to oppose Sweden and Finland joining NATO: Sweden’s new prime minister pledged to work toward countering terrorism threats to Turkey, as his government seeks Turkey’s approval for his country’s NATO membership bid. The Turkish government has accused Sweden — and to a lesser degree Finland — of ignoring its security concerns. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government is pressing the two countries to crack down on individuals it considers terrorists, including supporters of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and people the government suspects of orchestrating a failed 2016 coup in Turkey. apnews.com

EU calls for digital counter-attacks: Brussels is calling on EU member states to use the full spectrum of cyber defence, including so-called hack backs, in which the attacked party paralyses the attacker’s servers or attacks other parts of its critical infrastructure. A corresponding strategy is to be adopted this Wednesday. Berlin, however, categorically rejects hack backs. faz.net

Spyware systematically used by some EU governments: EU democracy is under attack by the increasing use of mercenary spyware that violates privacy rights, silences opposition and the free press, and shields governments from public scrutiny, a new report by a committee of the European Parliament has said. The report is an initial review of the work undertaken by the Parliament’s Pegasus committee, established earlier this year to probe the purchase and deployment of surveillance technology by EU authorities. euronews.com, euractiv.com

EU launches probe into Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard takeover: The EU Commission announced the opening of an in-depth investigation concerning Microsoft’s $69 billion bid to acquire video game giant Activision Blizzard. The Commission decided to further look into the deal following the assessment that it might harm competition, notably for the distribution of video games on console and desktop and for PC operating systems. euractiv.com

Brexit: Protocol deal within weeks if political will is there, says EU’s Sefcovic euractiv.com
European Court of Justice: Blow to EU after top court strikes down sweetheart tax ruling euractiv.com
Airbnb and others: EU Commission presents new rules on short term rentals euractiv.com

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“The global south has the resources in abundance, let’s team up. That is why European Union is signing new hydrogen partnerships with Egypt, Namibia and Kazakhstan.”

Addressing the COP27 climate summit, EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen urged countries in the global north to follow the EU’s example in pledging climate financing to the global south. euronews.com

NATION

All refugees in Catania have left rescue ships: After two days of waiting, the remaining 250 refugees have been allowed to leave the rescue ships „Geo Barents“ and „Humanity 1“. However, the decision did not come from the Italian government: the health authorities decided that the refugees could go ashore for humanitarian reasons. Previously, the remaining refugees on board the „Humanity 1“ had gone on hunger strike. spiegel.de, sueddeutsche.de

  • No port in Italy: Rescue ship „Ocean Viking“ heading for France.

UK minister Gavin Williamson resigns from post following bullying allegations: Williamson said the accusations against him were becoming a distraction for the work the government was doing. Williamson’s current stint in government only lasted for 14 days. Considered a close ally of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Williamson had faced growing calls to quit following bullying allegations. Former deputy chief whip Anne Milton described Williamson’s conduct five years ago, when he was the chief whip, as “threatening” and “intimidating,” in an interview with Channel 4 news. cnn.com

Bulgarian police officer shot dead near southern border with Turkey: A Bulgarian police officer has been shot dead by an unidentified person at the border with Turkey, officials say. The incident occurred on Monday evening when the border police officer and a soldier were patrolling near the village of Golyam Dervent, according to interior minister Ivan Demerdzhiev. euronews.com

French far-right MP excluded from parliament over racist comment: French far-right MP Grégoire de Fournas was sanctioned with an exclusion from the National Assembly, following outrage in the Chamber over a racist comment made to another MP. During the question time to the government on Thursday, left-wing politician Carlos Martens Bilongo was questioning the government on the plight of migrants stranded on the Ocean Viking vessel in the Mediterranean Sea. As he was speaking, de Fournas shouted “go back to Africa!”, causing outrage across all parties of the Chamber. euractiv.com

Radioactive leak found at French reactor: French utility EDF discovered a radioactive leak last Wednesday in the primary cooling circuit of its Civaux nuclear plant in southwestern France, the company said, adding there was no safety risk and no radioactivity was measured outside the plant. The Civaux 1 1,500-megawatt reactor has been shut since August 2021 for scheduled 10-year maintenance. Work on the plant had already been delayed by a week and EDF now faces a potential major further delay. reuters.com

French cardinal to be investigated over abuse confessions: The prosecutor’s office in Marseille has opened a preliminary investigation for “aggravated sexual assault” against Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, one of France’s highest-ranking prelates of the Catholic Church. Via a letter that was read out Monday during a conference of French bishops, Ricard said that he had abused a 14-year-old girl 35 years ago and is withdrawing from his religious duties. washingtonpost.com

Polish politician blames low birthrate on young women drinking: The leader of Poland’s ruling party caused a stir at home and abroad after he claimed the country’s low birthrate is caused by young women who drink as much as men do. The unsupported claims by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of Poland’s Law and Justice party, were swiftly denounced by women’s rights groups and lawmakers inside and outside the country. washingtonpost.com

Genocide denial: Bosnia prosecutors weigh possible suit against Croatian president euractiv.com
Slovenia to exclude foreign cash from mega rail project, snubs Hungary euractiv.com
Portugal on track to bring carbon neutrality goal forward to 2045 euractiv.com
Belgium’s age-old criminal code to get ‘modern touch’ euractiv.com

NUMERS

The Chamber of Deputies approved a bill which, if approved by the Senate and signed by the president, will impose a 60% windfall tax on the profits of energy companies and banks deemed excessive. euractiv.com

AT LEAST

Norwegian princess quits royal duties to work with shaman fiance: Princess Märtha Louise of Norway has relinquished her royal duties to focus on her alternative medicine business with her fiance, a self-proclaimed shaman, the palace has said. The 51-year-old princess’s relationship with Durek Verrett, a Hollywood spiritual guru, caused waves in Norway after the “sixth-generation shaman” suggested in his book Spirit Hacking that cancer was a choice. theguardian.com