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Ukraine and Russia: What’s the EU doing?

This past week, reports have amassed on Russia increasing its deployment of troops near the Ukrainian border. It is estimated that this constitutes the largest deployment since Russia’s annexation of Crimea, with heavy equipment and artillery being towed from as far as Siberia. According to Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov, the build up is nothing more than an exercise but military experts say the troop movements paint a different picture. 

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Northern Ireland and the Brexit Trilemma

Since the beginning of last week, there have been violent clashes between rioters and the police in Northern Ireland. The riots, in which all kinds of objects, including masonry, fireworks and even petrol bombs were thrown at the police, seem to have started in the city of Londonderry. From there, they spread to other parts of Northern Ireland, including the capital of Belfast. According to local media, no less than 70 police officers have been injured within the span of just eleven days. 

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Is Kurz breaking up EU solidarity over his vaccine politics?

Kurz is creating an Us (Eastern bloc plus Austria) vs. Them (western states like France, Germany) in the EU in his fight for the solidarity clause that should allow for a fairer distribution of vaccine doses to deprivileged countries. The problem: his own country is not actually suffering as much as others. With a vaccine progress of around 15.4% having received the first shot, Austria fares better than Germany, currently at 12.9%, and lies above EU average. So why is he doing this? And what exactly is happening anyway? 

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Why turkey’s withdrawal from the istanbul convention is about power politics

In 2020, 409 women were killed in Turkey and dozens of other women were found dead under suspicious circumstances. Since the beginning of this year , already 77 women have suffered the same fate – an unfortunate trend that most probably will continue throughout the upcoming months. These numbers should make everyone queasy, though apparently, they do not have the same effect on Erdogan and his political allies. 

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‘Vjosa river national park now’

Last week, environmental organisations installed banners with the slogan “Vjosa river national park now” in front of famous monuments like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Brandenburger Tor in Berlin, and the EU Commission in Brussels calling for the preservation of the Albanian Vjosa river. NGOs want the river to get a ‘national park’ status before a new administration comes in. 

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EU Commission tightens vaccine export rules

Stricter rules are going to apply to European vaccine exports. The European Commission, yesterday, added the principles of reciprocity and proportionality to the transparency and authorisation mechanism (a mechanism that allows Member States to stop vaccine exports under certain conditions). The two new principles allow countries to look at how much the destination country is exporting itself and if the conditions in that country are better or worse than the EU’s.

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The return to borderless travel? The EU’s digital Green certificate

The European Commission proposed its long-awaited Digital Green Certificate last week. The certificate, which is welcomed by countries that wish to open up their tourist sector this month but despised by anti-vax tweeters that think it’s the EU’s newest strategy to keep everyone prisoner, is meant to facilitate free movement again. This comes after a period of rather restricted movement, with more and more Member States recently stopping travellers at the border.

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Enough is enough – EU sues UK for breaching the Brexit agreement

The European Commission announced on Monday that it has sent a letter of formal notice to the government of the UK for the violation of the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, as well as the good faith obligation, which is part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. With this step, the Commission has started the infringement procedure, which might eventually bring the UK before the European Court of Justice – if it does not take the necessary actions to prevent this.

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EP Declares the EU an LGBTIQ Freedom zone

The European Parliament voted yesterday to declare the whole European Union an LGBTIQ Freedom zone. The resolution, on which 492 MEPs voted in favour, 141 voted against and 46 abstained, comes as a response to the declaration of LGBTIQ-free zones in over a hundred Polish regions, counties and municipalities and is intended to put political pressure on states with illiberal tendencies.