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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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Wednesday, 30 March 2022: EU plan to aid refugee resettlement, EU seeks end to golden passport schemes, UK to cut taxes on wages and fuel
30. März 2022


EU agrees plan to aid refugee resettlement: European Union interior ministers have agreed on a plan to coordinate the sheltering capacity between member states based on a solidarity approach. EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said that the ministers had agreed on a 10-point plan. It included creating an EU-wide registration system for Ukrainian refugees and to improve transport coordination to help people move between countries. The EU will set up an anti-trafficking plan as well as giving direct support to Moldova, a non-EU state on the border with Ukraine that has taken in thousands of refugees already.

  • EU advisory office hit by Russian shelling in Ukraine
  • Netherlands, Czech Republic, Ireland and Belgium expel Russian diplomats over alleged spying activities
  • US to move troops and aircraft to Eastern Europe
  • Visegrad defence meeting called off over Russia split
  • Germany eyes Israeli missile-defence system

Conference call with Biden, Scholz, Macron, Johnson and Draghi: The leaders of the United States, Germany, France, Britain and Italy agreed in a phone call on Tuesday afternoon to keep pushing Russia for a ceasefire and for the withdrawal of its troops from Ukraine, a German government spokesman said. They also agreed to keep up the high sanctions pressure on Russia.

EU moves toward joint natural gas purchase to curb shortages: The aim is to avoid another crisis tied to the EU’s dependency on Russian energy. Low levels of gas storage “brought us to big difficulties in January where we have been kind of scrambling for additional gas for European consumption,” EU Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic said. With energy prices high and supplies low, the EU is looking at its last crisis – the Covid pandemic – as a blueprint. The member states joined up to buy vaccines in huge quantities for an equitable distribution.

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Commission presents plan for increased food production in the EU: A range of short-term and medium-term actions are meant to enhance global food security and to support farmers and consumers in the EU in light of rising food prices and input costs, such as energy and fertilisers. The surge in global commodity prices, further accelerated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, highlights again the need for EU agriculture and food supply chains to become more resilient and sustainable, in line with the Farm to Fork strategy.

EU seeks end to golden passport schemes: The EU Commission called on EU governments on Monday to end national programmes to sell citizenship to investors, also known as golden passports schemes, and urged them to suspend the sale of visas to Russians and Belarusians.

EU considers recommendation for 4th COVID-19 shot: Germany’s health minister on Tuesday urged his EU counterparts to back a fourth COVID-19 vaccine jab for people over the age of 60. Citing data from Israel, Karl Lauterbach said there was an almost 80% reduction in omicron deaths in people over 60 when a fourth vaccination was administered four months after the initial booster. His proposal for the EU Commission to issue common advice on administering a fourth dose was backed by a majority of the bloc’s ministers.

ECB to tighten banks‘ access to loans after pandemic-era largesse: The European Central Bank will tighten banks‘ access to its liquidity from July by phasing out exceptionally easy collateral rules introduced at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the ECB said on Thursday.

ECB agrees euro liquidity lines with non-euro area central banks: The European Central Bank (ECB) and Narodowy Bank Polski have agreed to set up a precautionary swap line to provide euro liquidity to financial institutions in Poland. The ECB has also decided to extend its temporary bilateral repo lines to the central banks of Hungary, Albania, the Republic of North Macedonia and the Republic of San Marino.

First fines over rule-breaking parties in Downing Street: The Metropolitan Police will issue 20 fines over parties which broke Covid laws in the UK and were attended by politicians and officials at the top of British government. Since January the police have been investigating allegations of 12 lockdown-busting gatherings in Downing Street and Whitehall, despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s initial assertion that the rules were followed at all times.

Deal on Digital Markets Act: The Digital Markets Act (DMA) will blacklist certain practices used by large platforms acting as “gatekeepers” and enable the Commission to carry out market investigations and sanction non-compliant behaviour.

EU agencies must ramp up cybersecurity measures: EU institutions must do more to protect themselves from cyber attacks as their interconnected networks put them at greater risk, the European Court of Auditors said on Tuesday. It warned that the varying level of cybersecurity preparedness at EU agencies posed a problem for their overall security. It pointed to the more than tenfold increase in cybersecurity incidents at EU bodies between 2018 and 2021.

  • UN Cybercrime Convention: EU Commission wants to uphold human rights

Ten more years of roaming without additional fees: The EU will renew the “Roam Like At Home” scheme for another ten years, under plans adopted by the European Parliament. Consumers will continue to be able to use their mobile phones when travelling abroad in the EU with no additional fees on top of what they already pay at home.

EU court ruling on Polish judges: Poland’s government has always justified its judicial reform by saying that it wants to cleanse Poland of the remnants of communism. This argument has now been put in check. The European Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday that merely having started working under communism does not call a judge’s judicial independence into question.

European Chips Act: Emergency measures against supply bottlenecks controversial
Afghanistan: Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the EU calling for the immediate re-opening of secondary schools for girls
Future of Europe: First debate on Conference proposals wraps up


The good side of it is that the death rate continues to decrease. Despite this being the case, it’s still more than 6,000 people that die per week in the EU of Covid.
Europe is easing restrictions, closing vaccination centres and seeing declining death rates, but COVID-19 cases are rising, and we must be ready for possible future variants, according to Andrea Ammon, director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).


Ukraine’s President Zelensky addressed Swedish parliament: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Sweden for its support and early arms deliveries. In a video address to the Swedish Parliament last week, he said it was no mere coincidence that both the Ukrainian and Swedish flags are yellow and blue because the countries stand together for freedom, peaceful life, the dignity of every human being and justice. Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson thanked him afterwards on Twitter for the „powerful words of a courageous leader“.

France increases nuclear submarine presence: Three French nuclear missile submarines have been deployed at sea simultaneously for the first time in three decades as a response to Russian nuclear sabre-rattling. France has also successfully tested a modernised version of its nuclear-tipped medium-range missile.,

Spain announces relief package: Spain announced 16 billion euros in direct aid and soft loans on Monday to help companies and households weather sky-high energy prices that are pushing up inflation and stoking social discontent. There will also be limits on house rent increases and caps on energy prices. A cap on gas prices could be set at 30 euros per megawatt/hour. Consumer associations have criticised the package – which is meant to mitigate the fallout of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – as insufficient and some truckers remain on strike.

UK to cut taxes on wages and fuel: The UK government is attempting to take some of the sting out of the worst cost of living crisis in decades. Finance minister Rishi Sunak said last week that he would cut the duty on gas and diesel by 5 pence a litre for one year. The government will also raise the threshold for a payroll tax — a measure that amounts to a £330 annual tax cut for about 30 million people — and reduce the basic rate of income tax from April 2024.

Germany to invest €4 billion in natural climate protection: German Environment Minister Steffi Lemke said the plan was aimed at strengthening Germany’s existing biodiversity and helping dampen the effects of climate change. Intact wetlands would be protected and those that have been drained would be restored by increasing groundwater levels. Rivers, lakes, ponds and floodplains, which „provide a great deal of biodiversity,“ will also be protected.

Malta’s Labour party claims victory in general election: Malta’s Labour party has secured a third term in government despite a legacy of corruption and after the lowest turnout in decades. This would be the prime minister Robert Abela’s first electoral mandate after replacing Joseph Muscat, who stood down as prime minister in January 2020 amid a government crisis stemming from the murder of the journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Ex-Danish minister serves sentence over 2016 asylum ruling: Inger Støjberg, a former Danish immigration minister, has started serving her sentence after an order she issued in 2016 was ruled illegal. Støjberg had said that if a member of a married couple seeking asylum in Denmark was found to be under 18 years old then the couple should be separated and housed in separate asylum centres.,

Former Austrian minister Karmasin released from custody: Suspicion of embezzlement, bribery and money laundering: the public prosecutor’s office is investigating former Family Minister Sophie Karmasin. She is said to have been involved in the plan that falsified taxpayer-funded surveys in favour of the ÖVP and then printed them in an Austrian tabloid. Karmasin was recently released from custody after the Vienna Higher Regional Court upheld an appeal by her lawyers.

For the first time more women than men in Portugal’s government: Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa has presented his new cabinet. The government said more than half of cabinet members are women. This is a novelty in Portugal. In addition, for the first time in the country’s history, a woman is the head of the defence ministry.

Greek air force intercepts Turkish fighter jets: A Turkish fighter jet and drone violated Greece’s airspace over the Aegean Sea, according to media reports. In particular, two pairs of Turkish F-16 fighter jets and an additional formation of a quartet of Turkish F-16s entered the Athens Flight Information Region at night, without submitting a flight plan.

Paris imposes driving bans because of air pollution: In the greater metropolitan area of the French capital, only vehicles with certain environmental badges are allowed to drive. The city has also reduced prices for public transport.

Google fined 2 mln euros in France for abusive commercial practices: A court in France fined Google two million euros on Monday for the “significant imbalances” that the company has created with application developers through clauses deemed unfair. After four years of proceedings and numerous postponements of the decision, the Paris Commercial Court sided with the French executive, which had sued the US giant in 2018.

La Louvière Carnival groups observe minute of silence for Strépy victims: At about 1:30 PM, the music stopped suddenly and the gilles – as the participants in the carnival are called – froze for a minute of silence, as did the crowd around the square, while nearby cafés stopped playing music. A series of officials of the commune were present for the moment of silence. Six people died last Sunday when a speeding hit-and-run driver slammed into a group of persons in Strépy-Bracquegnies, a locality close to La Louvière. Some 30 others were injured.

Jamaica PM tells British royals island nation wants to be independent: Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness told Britain’s Prince William and his wife Kate last week his country wants to be „independent“ and address „unresolved“ issues, a day after protesters called on the UK to pay reparations for slavery. The royal couple arrived in Jamaica on Tuesday as part of a week-long tour of former British Caribbean colonies. In a speech at the governor general’s residence, William said he agreed with his father’s declaration that „the appalling atrocity of slavery forever stains our history“.

Poland to ban Russian coal imports
Money laundering investigation: EU countries freeze assets worth $130m in Lebanon probe
French presidential election in ten days: Macron kickstarts re-election campaign as Le Pen gains ground
Presidential election in Serbia on Sunday: Western sanctions against Russia big campaign issue
Hungarian parliamentary election on Sunday: Claims of media bias overshadow election campaign


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Dutch publisher pulls investigative book on who betrayed Anne Frank: A group of Dutch historians has published an in-depth criticism of the work and conclusion of a cold case team that said it had pieced together the „most likely scenario“ of who betrayed Jewish teenage diarist Anne Frank and her family. Six historians and academics describe the cold case team’s findings as „a shaky house of cards.“ The book’s Dutch publisher repeated an earlier apology and announced it was pulling the book from stores.