This Week in Europe: European Council meeting, elections in Austria and Czech Republic and more

, by Juuso Järviniemi, Radu Dumitrescu, Věra Dvořáková

This Week in Europe: European Council meeting, elections in Austria and Czech Republic and more
Design by Samuel Mork Bednarz.

Members of the TNF team recount big events from Europe from the past week, and point attention to news that may have passed notice. What did we miss? Comment on our Facebook page at http://facebook.com/thenewfederalist.eu !

‘New EU agenda’, no Brexit progress in European Council meeting

European Council President Donald Tusk put forward a ’new EU agenda’ at the autumn EU leaders’ summit. While the EU27 unanimously delayed the talks regarding phase 2 of Brexit for December, the solution to the issue of Ireland and Northern Ireland remained unresolved. Juncker doubled down on his commitment to complete the free trade agreement with Mercosur before the end of the year. Finally, Germany and Austria led the critiques addressed to Turkey in light of Ankara’s jailing of EU nationals and its interference in the German elections.

Catalan leaders taken into custody, new election in the pipeline

The Spanish constitutional crisis continued with the taking into custody of leaders of the Catalan independence movement, and with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy declaring that a new election should take place in Catalonia. Meanwhile, Catalan media has also suggested an early election, but one called by Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont earlier than what Madrid has planned.

Sebastian Kurz wins the Austrian election

The Austrian parliamentary election ended with the victory of the right wing, represented by the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP - 31.7%) and the Freedom Party (FPÖ - 26%). The Social Democrats managed to come in second, with 26.9% of the votes. As a result, Austrian President Alexander van der Bellen officially asked Sebastian Kurz, the 31-year-old leader of ÖVP to form a new government.

EU stands by Iran nuclear deal

The EU, through the voice of diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini and the unanimous vote of the 28 foreign ministers, confirmed that it is not backing down from the nuclear deal with Iran, in spite of Donald Trump’s threats of terminating it.

Europeans more positive about EU

A study ordered by the European Parliament showed that 47% of Europeans feel that “their voice counts in the EU”, the highest level since June 2009. Moreover, Romanian and Lithuanian respondents felt that their concerns were better listened to at the EU level.

EU-US Privacy Shield passes its first annual review

The Privacy Shield, meant to protect Europeans’ personal data transferred to the U.S. for commercial purposes, was deemed to be “working well” by EU justice commissioner Vera Jourova. However, the commissioner restated her intention to have a privacy ombudsperson, who would answer the complaints of EU citizens regarding U.S. spying.

EU to cut funds to Turkey

At the EU summit in Brussels, the German Chancellor said that, in the context of arrests of political opponents in Turkey, EU leaders agreed to ask the Commission to reduce pre-accession aid to Ankara. Previously, Turkish president Erdogan repeatedly accused Merkel of “Nazi practices” and maintained that Turkey does not need the EU. Over the 2014 and 2020 period, the EU Commission allocated €4.5 billion in pre-accession aid in Turkey and €6 billion to humanitarian agencies in the country to help the living conditions of the millions of refugees.

Eurosceptic parties claim victory in Czech elections

Parliamentary elections in the Czech Republic brought the populist Euroskeptic ANO party in the forefront, with almost 30% of the vote. Andrej Babis, leader of the party, looks to be the next PM, despite having been charged with defrauding the EU of a €2 million subsidy. The next government is likely to be composed of ANO and two “mainstream” Czech parties - the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats - as its junior partners.

Tropical storm hits Europe

The beginning of the week saw almost 40 lives lost in Portugal and Spain due to tropical storm Ophelia and the wildfires in its aftermath. The storm also caused casualties as it reached Ireland, in what was called the worst storm Ireland has seen in 50 years.

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