On Wednesday,15 September, Commission President von der Leyen held her State of the Union Speech. Key themes: COVID-19, the future of the youth, and climate action.
In response to Hungary’s recently introduced anti-LGTBTQ+ law which prohibits the representation of LGBTQ+ content in education and TV shows for under-18s, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Thursday asked Hungary to leave the EU, or start respecting LGBTQ+ rights. Standing up for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community which is discriminated and increasingly suppressed by Hungary’s homophobic policies, Rutte made a bold statement declaring his aim was “to bring Hungary to its knees on this issue”. Hungary has been the EU’s black sheep for quite a while now, most prominently because of its democratic backsliding which has resulted in concerns about the country’s rule of law.
On Sunday, a Belarusian military jet forced a Ryanair plane to perform an emergency landing in Minsk, even though the plane was en route to Lithuania from Greece. The reason for the seven-hour long detour turned out to be the arrest of Belarusian opposition journalist Roman Protasevich, who was on board the plane. In what has been an unusually quick response, EU leaders have strongly condemned the action and arrest of Prostasevich and his partner, and planned further sanctions for President Lukashenko’s circle.
‘The Left in the European Parliament’ (or short GUE/NGL for ‘Gauche Unitaire Européenne/Nordic Green Left’), is the smallest group in the European Parliament with 39 MEPs from thirteen Member States. As their name already suggests, they see themselves as the political representation of workers, trade unions and social movements with their main goal being to create ‘a social EU’.
On the occasion of Europe Day on May 9, the EU is kicking off the long-awaited and much-debated Conference on the Future of Europe. The events will give citizens a chance to become more involved in what is by many perceived as opaque and mysterious Brussels bubble politics. Current challenges and ideas for the future will be discussed in various formats, ranging from a multilingual dual platform through smaller decentralised events to large european citizens’ panels and conference plenaries.We are looking ahead at what the different party groups of the European Parliament (ultimately the EU’s most direct representation of its citizens) envision the EU’s future to look like. Every day this week, there will be a new article analysing another party group’s position and vision.
Brace yourselves: this is not your usual news update about EU matters. In fact, it is a completely self-centred post since we want to talk about us – looking back on the past months and ahead into the future. Are you up for the ride? Then let’s go…
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?
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.
Last Monday marked this year’s international women’s day – a good opportunity for groups in the European Parliament to show where they stand on gender equality and women’s rights. And because we can imagine you don’t want to spend a full evening researching all the different groups, going through their Twitter accounts, reading their press releases and clicking on every link they’ve posted, we did so for you.
In response to the treatment of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny since his return to Russia, EU foreign ministers decided on Monday to impose a new set of sanctions on individuals in the country. The heads of state and government will likely agree in their next European Council meeting, and when they do, at least four more individuals will be hit by asset freezes and entry bans to the EU.