Spanish political scientist Martin Alberdi Rodriguez speaks, as always, about Europe with his frenemies and forbidden lovers Federico Giovannini and Jules Ortjens. The Italian Marxist philosopher and the Dutch local leader of pan-European party Volt rarely agree, except on the fact that we need to be speaking of Europe.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“We need to go faster, much faster” commented Italy’s new Prime Minister Mario Draghi during the last European Council meeting that, among other things, touched upon the European vaccination strategy. Did this hurry lead him to block the 250,000 AstraZeneca’s vaccine shipment to Australia on the 4th of March? Maybe. Will this demonstration of strength change the pace of the EU vaccine rollout? Perhaps. What is sure is that Mr Draghi’s bold action has set a clear sign: the EU is losing its patience.
The long-awaited and much-debated conference on the future of Europe finally seems to be gaining some traction now that the European Parliament has signed a joint declaration by the Parliament, Commission and Council. The project was set to launch in May 2020 already but hit a brick wall due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
Orbán’s ruling party, Fidesz, leaves the European People’s Party (EPP). In a letter addressed to Manfred Weber, the group’s leader, he informs him that all Fidesz MEPs resign their membership of the Christian Democrat group. The letter comes as a response to today’s meeting where the EPP decided to vote in favour of changing the rules of member party exclusion.