This Week in Europe

, by Radu Dumitrescu

This Week in Europe

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 !

EU Commission designs task force for natural disasters

As part of the “Europe that protects” initiative launched by Commission president Juncker, the new plan to deal with natural disasters is built upon the enhancement of the currently running Civil Protection Mechanism. The purpose of the mechanism is to “assist Member States in responding to disasters when national capacities are overwhelmed.” Member States will share prevention and preparation strategies and their assets will become part of a shared pool of emergency response resources.

EU agencies move from the UK but remain in the West

On Monday, EU ministers voted that the European Medicines Agency is to be relocated to Amsterdam and the European Banking Authority to Paris. Part of the aftermath of Brexit, the relocation of the two agencies is seen as a disappointment by Central and Eastern European member states that do not already host an EU agency.

“Geo-blocking” banned by the EU

The European Parliament, the Commission and the Council have agreed on Monday to ban “geo-blocking”, or the discrimination against consumers based on location, within one year. The new regulations also move toward opening up content such as games, music and ebooks. Services such as Spotify will still be able to offer different catalogues in different countries - seen as a failure of the new regulations - but consumers will be informed of any difference. Largest volcano in Iceland is to erupt Oeræfajoekull, the largest volcano in Iceland, has shown increased activity in the last few days, as reported by the Icelandic department of civil protection. Evacuation plans are in place in order to control the situation. The volcano has previously erupted only twice - in 1362 and 1727. In 2010, the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano completely shut down the European airspace for 6 days.

Ankara bans LGBTI events

Authorities in the Turkish capital as banned events of the sexual minorities in order to “maintain public order”, following a previous decision to ban a German-language gay film festival. In response, the German embassy hung the rainbow flag along with the German one.

German coalition talks reach “grand coalition” scenario

After the walkout of the liberals and the failure of the “Jamaica coalition” envisaged before the elections, Germany is once again set for stability after the SPD leadership dropped their opposition to forming a grand coalition government with Angela Merkel’s CDU. The Social-Democrats also declared that they could “tolerate” a Conservative minority government.

Spain sees surge of Algerian migrants

Spain’s interior minister has summoned the Algerian ambassador to Spain in order to clarify the reason for which hundreds of migrants have been landing on the coasts of Murcia and Almeria during the last few weeks. The migrants were taken to an unfinished prison in Malaga.

Irish and Slovenian governments risk collapse

In Ireland, opposition party Fianna Fail said it would forward a no-confidence motion in Deputy PM Frances Fitzgerald after Fitzgerald’s handling of a police whistleblower case. The controversy is set to have devastating effects for the minority government of Fine Gael.

In Slovenia, the government is under fire after the ruling liberal party took 60-year old Syrian refugee Ahmad Shamieh under its protection. Facing deportation to Croatia - his point of entry into the EU - by virtue of EU rules, the Shamieh case now serves as ammunition against the government for the conservative opposition SDS and the coalition partners of the liberals, the centrist DeSUS.

UK cities not eligible for European Capital of Culture 2023

The European Commission ruled that the European Capital of Culture in 2023 cannot be in the United Kingdom because of Brexit. The UK, along with Hungary, had previously been designated as one of the countries hosting the capital of culture. However, only EU or EEA members, and candidate countries for accession, are eligible. Dundee, Nottingham, Leeds, Milton Keynes and Belfast together with Derry had spent millions of pounds on the bids, anticipating significant benefits for the local economy in 2023.

The Guardian reports: “Downing Street said it disagreed with the decision and had begun ‘urgent discussions’ with the commission. However, a spokesman was unable to say on what grounds the UK was objecting.”

Poland protests against judiciary reform again

Thousands of people have protested in cities across Poland against the government’s second attempt to pass two controversial bills reforming the judiciary. According to the Polish opposition and the EU, the reform is not in compliance with EU law and poses a threat to the rule of law as such. The government claims that it is necessary in order to tackle inefficiency and corruption. Nonetheless, the details of the revised bills still have not been released.

Ratko Mladic sentenced to life in prison

On 22 November, former Bosnian Serb army leader was found guilty on one charge of genocide, nine crimes against humanity and war crimes due to his role in the conflict in the former Yugoslavia (1992-1995). He was also accused of organisation of ethnic cleansing, which included the massacre in Srebrenica. The trial has lasted 530 and took place in Hague, the Netherlands.

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