EU Observer (164)

Romanian parliament buries controversial corruption decree

The Romanian parliament voted on Tuesday to abandon a controversial ordinance that decriminalised official misconduct if the financial damage amounted to less than €44,100. The decree, seen as a way for politicians from the ruling Social-Democratic Party to avoid convictions, had triggered mass ...

Should Europeans spend more on defence?

Without a common European security policy, increased spending, as requried by the US, will have unintended consequences.

Dozens drown off Libyan coast

The Libyan Red Crescent aid organisation said it had recovered some 74 bodies on Monday that had washed ashore on the Libyan coast. The Red Crescent says the deceased had attempted to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach Italy on a rubber boat. More are feared dead, with children said to be among ...

EU ministers approve anti-tax avoidance directive

EU finance ministers approved on Monday the Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive II, which aims at fighting tax avoidance by targeting loopholes, known as "hybrid mismatches", where companies exploit differences between tax systems of member states and non-EU countries. "The EU is at the forefront of the ...

Dieselgate: EU disappointed with VW's treatment of customers

VW has refused even a "gentleman's gesture" of non-financial compensation to its Dieselgate-hit customers, the EU's consumer affairs commissioner tells this website.

Poland rejects EU criticism of court changes

Poland's foreign ministry said on Monday in a formal reply to Brussels that changes to the country's constitutional court are in accordance with European standards. The European Commission is worried that the reforms undermine judicial independence of the court. If it deems Poland's answers as ...

German nationalist leader met with Putin allies in Moscow

Germany's nationalist AfD party leader, Frauke Petry, met with senior Russian politicians in Moscow on Monday following an invite from the Russian government. Accompanied by a delegation of party members, Petry discussed collaboration between Russian and German lawmakers, parties and youth ...

German housing market overheated, says Bundesbank

German real estate is overvalued by up to 30 percent, Germany's central bank, Deutsche Bundesbank, said on Monday. Its monthly report for February singled out seven cities which were particularly affected by overheated markets - Berlin, Cologne, Duesseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich and Stuttgart. ...

France invites three EU leaders for Versailles summit in March

French president Francois Hollande announced after a meeting with Spanish PM Rajoy in Malaga on Monday that there will be a summit in Versailles with the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Spain on 6 March in preparation of the EU summit in Brussels on 9-10 March and the 60th anniversary of the ...

French police raid Le Pen's party office

Officers raid the National Front headquarters near Paris over allegations that leader Marine Le Pen used fake EU parliament contracts to pay her personal staff.

The Armenia-Azerbaijan war: A refugee's story

The lynching of a woman in the Soviet Union in 1988 gives insight into why reconciliation remains so hard in the 30-year long war on Europe's eastern fringe.

Greece and creditors break bailout deadlock

Athens agreed on budget cuts worth up to €3.6 billion and extracted some concessions from creditors, but the IMF warned the package might not be enough.

Internal EU report exposes Libya turmoil

A 59-page internal EU report provides a bleak overview of a country seen as vital in stemming migration flows towards Italy.

EU commissioner condemns 'delay' in post-Dieselgate reform

'There is no time to lose,' Elzbieta Bienkowska told member states. 'There is systematic failure in the type approval system in Europe.'

EU commissioner flays 'delay' in post-Dieselgate reform

'There is no time to lose,' Elzbieta Bienkowska told member states. 'There is systematic failure in the type approval system in Europe.'

Sweden fights back as foreign leaders make up bad news

Not only Donald Trump but also Poland's Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Hungary's Viktor Orban and Norway's Siv Jensen have been bashing Sweden over its once liberal migration policy in recent years.

Greece agrees on new bailout reforms

Greece and its creditors agreed on Monday on the return to Athens of EU and International Monetary Fund experts to negotiate "an additional package of structural reforms", Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem said after a meeting of eurozone finance ministers. He said reforms would concern tax, ...

Nordstream 2: Alternative pipeline facts

Arguments put forward by Nord Stream 2's Brussels lobbyist in defence of the Russian-led project are not consistent and ignore some basic facts.

US vice-president on goodwill mission in Brussels

In meetings with EU leaders, Mike Pence reaffirmed the Trump administration's commitment to cooperate with a united EU, but disagreements are still there.

US "strongly committed" to cooperation with EU, says vice-president

US vice-president Mike Pence said in Brussels on Monday that president Donald Trump and his administration have a "strong commitment ... to continued cooperation and partnership with the EU". He added that the EU and US "share the same heritage, values and purpose: to promote peace and prosperity ...

US "strongly committed" to cooperation with EU, says vice-president

US vice-president Mike Pence said in Brussels on Monday that president Donald Trump and his administration have a "strong commitment ... to continue cooperation and partnership with the EU". He added that the EU and US "share the same heritage, values and purpose: to promote peace and prosperity ...

Wilders pulls out of second Dutch election TV debate

Dutch anti-EU politician Geert Wilders has cancelled his participation in an election debate, after rejecting as "disgusting" that one of the broadcasters that organised it interviewed his brother, who does not support Wilders' views. He had already pulled out of another TV debate a week ago. There ...

Malta anger over plans for web crackdown

Malta's government proposes widening libel laws to include all sorts of material published online.

Pence, Greece and Brexit This WEEK

The US vice-president becomes the first senior Trump administration official to visit EU institutions. Greece's creditors try to break deadlock in talks, and British Lords will debate Brexit.

Russia to recognise passports from breakaway Ukraine regions

Russia will recognise passports issued by the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk republics in eastern Ukraine, Russian president Vladimir Putin announced on Saturday. People from the eastern regions will be able to travel into Russia without applying for a visa. The decree also recognises identity ...

Pro-refugee marchers swarm through Barcelona

Barcelona police estimated 160,000 people took to the streets on Saturday demanding that Spain's conservative government accept more refugees. Spain has pledged to take in about 16,000 asylum seekers from other EU countries under a quota system agreed in 2015, but only 1,100 have been resettled in ...

Renzi seeks party's support

Matteo Renzi resigned on Sunday as leader of the Italian Democratic Party, but only to seek a stronger mandate within the party. Renzi stepped down as prime minister in January after losing a referendum on constitutional reform. He wants to run for the top job in general elections expected in spring ...

EU probes China-funded rail project

A planned 350km high-speed railway between Belgrade and Budapest is being investigated by the European Commission. The project, financed with the proceeds of a Chinese loan, will be assessed to see that EU rules on public tenders were followed. No contract for the Hungarian section of the railway ...

Why Romania erupted in protest

Current anger over corruption laws can be traced back to a night-club fire in 2015, when many died because of lax safety standards. Romanians then realised that corruption can kill.

EU commission denies Juncker resignation rumour

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker will "complete his term with much energy and determination", commission spokesman Alexander Winterstein said Monday after an article in Italian daily La Reppubblica said he was about to resign. Last week, Juncker, who was appointed in 2014, said he ...

Why Romania erupted in protest

A night-club fire in 2015, when many died because of lax safety standards, made Romanians realise that corruption can kill.

Referendum to create 'Republic of Artsakh' on Europe's fringe

Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh are voting on a new constitution in the crosshairs of Azerbaijan's artillery, as EUobserver looks at the issues in what could become Europe's next war.

US reassures Europe on Nato and Russia, again

US vice-president Mike Pence crowned a week of American diplomacy in Europe on Saturday by promising to stick by Nato and to take a tough line on Russia.

The need for global cooperation in stopping Iran

Although Trump said he would tear up the Iran Nuclear Agreement, the new administration seems to want to work on a new policy toward Iran. Let's hope European leaders will respond in kind to this approach.

Germany and US pledge to 'confront' Russia

Germany's defence minister described Russia as a threat to Europe's way of life', while also lecturing Trump on values.

Germany and US pledge to 'confront' Russia

Germany's defence minister has described Russia as a threat to Europe's way of life', while also lecturing US president Donald Trump on values.

Migrants storm Spanish enclave of Ceuta

Some 700 migrants on Friday attempted to scale a six-metre security fence that separates Morocco from the Spanish enclave of Ceuta. Government officials in Ceuta say some 500 made it into Spanish territory. Many are hoping to either seek asylum or work in mainland Europe. Authorities told The ...

Spain's princess fined for tax fraud, husband sentenced

Spain's Princess Cristina has been cleared of tax fraud, but must still pay some €265,000 in fines from unknowingly benefiting from illegal gains in a case stemming from to 2010. Her husband, Inaki Urdangarin, was sentenced to a six-year-and-three-month jail term. Urdangarin was accused of ...

EU to invest millions in energy infrastructure

The EU on Friday said it would invest some €444 million in 18 key electricity, smart grid and gas projects as part of a larger EU energy union. "This is another milestone in the setup of a cleaner, more competitive European energy market," said EU climate commissioner Arias Canete.

A bold call for traineeship equality

The EU ombudsman's slapdown of the EU diplomatic service's unpaid internship programs offers a glimmer of hope to a future of paid internships in Europe.

Netherlands' Wilders not riding Trump's coattails

Wilders' prediction that the Trump political spirit will jump the Atlantic will soon be put to the test in the Dutch elections.

Africa is our destiny

U2's Bono writes that Africa should be at the centre of political leader's thoughts at the latest G20 foreign minister's summit and the Munich security conference this coming week.

EU court reports increase in workload

Individuals and companies brought 974 new cases to the Court's General Court in 2016, compared to 831 new cases the year before.

Dutch data watchdog forces online vote aides to up security

The Dutch Data Protection Authority said on Friday it forced the administrators of fourteen online voting help applications to increase security. Websites that help voters decide to choose a political party are very popular in the Netherlands, but the DPA found that data entered into these tools ...

EU allows Lithuania to ban Russian tv channel

The European Commission said on Friday that a Lithuanian three-month suspension of Russian-language tv channel RTR Planeta was justified. "Lithuania has demonstrated that there have been manifest, serious and grave infringements of the prohibition of incitement to hatred," the commission said. This ...

London to tax older cars to combat pollution

The UK's capital is struggling with poor air quality. The London mayor says daily £10 tax will apply from October.

EU foreign service should pay its interns, EU watchdog says

Internships in the EU foreign service can help young people to build their career, so they should be open to anyone, not only those who can afford them, the EU ombudsman Emily O'Reilly said.

Le Pen used 'fake' EU parliament jobs

A leaked EU anti-fraud office report says French far-right leader, Marine Le Pen, had her bodyguard and personal assistant paid by the EU parliament for jobs they did not do.

Juncker attacks US on Nato spending

The commission head says the US should count EU development spending as a form of security, in a direct challenge to US comments on Nato.

Socialist MEPs seek new role after grand coalition

The German election is adding to the challenges facing the European Parliament's Socialists, who are looking for a new coalition to advance their issues.