Earthquake in the Netherlands due to gas extraction

Earthquake in the Netherlands due to gas extraction

The third biggest earthquake ever in Groningen occurred early Wednesday morning, due to gas extraction happening close by. Around 5:45 AM on Wednesday, an earthquake, 3.4 on the Richter scale, occurred in the Dutch province of Groningen. The quake originated at a depth of about three kilometres under the village of Westerwijtwerd, Loppersum. Hundreds of people were woken up and startled, but there are no injuries. According to a seismologist from the Dutch meteorological service KNMI, the shock was among the top three ever in Groningen. There is a large…

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No return of border controls between EU member states on tobacco and alcohol

No return of border controls between EU member states on tobacco and alcohol

EU ministers are against strengthening border controls to clamp down on private citizens buying tobacco or alcohol from other member countries. In a meeting on Friday they rallied against amending the suggested new EU directive on excise duties. This is a small victory for Belgium. Countries such as France, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Ireland, which have significantly increased their excise duties on alcoholic beverages or tobacco for public health reasons, do not appreciate that their residents buy these products in neighbouring countries. They sought to toughen the provision (Article 32)…

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EU drops Aruba, Barbados and Bermuda from its tax-haven blacklist

EU drops Aruba, Barbados and Bermuda from its tax-haven blacklist

European Finance Ministers meeting in Brussels on Friday dropped Aruba, Barbados and Bermuda from its tax-haven blacklist. The list, now down to 12 countries and territories, was established in December 2017 following a series of scandals, including Panama Papers and LuxLeaks, that prompted the EU to step up its action against tax fraud by multinationals and wealthy individuals. It aims to prevent tax evasion and promote fiscal transparency, fiscal equity and international standards against tax-base erosion and profit transfers. The Finance Ministers noted that Barbados had committed to address the…

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Europeans feel threatened by rise of populism

Europeans feel threatened by rise of populism

Close to 43% Europeans believe that the rise of populist parties threatens the functioning of the European Union, according to YouGov survey conducted for the Leading European Newspaper Alliance (LENA). The survey results were published today, less than two weeks before the European elections. This strong majority is exactly the same if you only consider Belgium. Respondents in Germany (56%) and Sweden (48%) are the most anxious. Unlike Hungary (33%) and Italy (36%). According to the survey, half of voting age Europeans (49%) consider the 26 May elections to be…

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Documents reveal EU bowed to demands of pesticide lobbies

Documents reveal EU bowed to demands of pesticide lobbies

An environmental nonprofit has obtained documents showing the extent to which the European Commission has been lobbied by pesticide producers seeking to protect their interests, leading to a more lenient regulation of these controversial substances. The environmental group, Pesticide Action Network (PAN), has obtained over 600 documents from the Commission showing top EU officials fighting to “cripple” the bloc’s pesticide protection legislation. “The Commission has chosen the side of the industry,” PAN’s Chemicals Coordinator Hans Muilerman told De Morgen. In its report, PAN says that the documents show how top…

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More than 30,000 people attend the European Institution’s Open Day

More than 30,000 people attend the European Institution’s Open Day

Over 30,000 people flocked to the Open Day hosted by the Brussels European Institutions, which took place on Saturday. The visitors were curious to learn more about the inner workings of the EU. The Open Day took place on the same day as the Fête de l’Iris, which lasted several days. It is also close to the anniversary of the Schuman declaration (9th of May 1950), famously made by French Foreign Affairs minister Robert Schuman. Schuman’s declaration is said to have laid some of the foundations for the EU’s construction….

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Investigative journalism in focus at World Press Freedom Day in Brussels

Investigative journalism in focus at World Press Freedom Day in Brussels

The day, also called Difference Day, was celebrated last Friday at Bozar, Brussels, for the 5th time in row. The day was proclaimed by UN General Assembly in 1993 following a recommendation by its Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). “3 May acts as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom and is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics,” says UNESCO in a statement. Just as importantly, World Press Freedom Day is also…

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EU forest policy: Seeing the forest for the trees

EU forest policy: Seeing the forest for the trees

An EU conference in Brussels last week on the future of forests underlined both the vulnerability of forests to the impacts of climate change such as droughts, fires and diseases and their decisive role in tackling climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide and providing products to replace emissions from fossil fuels and materials. Trees stand for life. Through the fundamental photosynthesis process, they absorb carbon dioxide from the air, create energy which they convert to carbon-storing wood and release oxygen. While focusing on the forests in EU, the conference also…

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The EU granted more than 330,000 people asylum in 2018

The EU granted more than 330,000 people asylum in 2018

The European Union granted more than 330,400 people asylum in 2018, according to the annual figures provided by the European statistics bureau Eurostat. 30% of those asylum seekers were Syrian. The amount of asylum seekers accepted dropped by 40% compared to 2017 (533,000). The majority of those granted asylum within the EU were Syrians (96,100 people, 29% of the total number of people granted asylum by EU member states), followed by Afghans (53,500, 16%), and Iraqis (24,600, 7%). Syrians were the biggest group to be granted asylum in 16 member…

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Think-tank predicts European Parliament will become fragmented in three blocs

Think-tank predicts European Parliament will become fragmented in three blocs

A new report released yesterday predicts that the European Parliament elections on 23 – 26 May will result in an increase in votes for Eurosceptic parties and a division of the parliament into three almost equal party blocs which could result in a deadlock in its decision-making. The report was published by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), a pan-European think-tank from 2007 with offices in several EU capitals. Its methodology is based on the historical relationship between the outcomes of European elections and public opinion polls. For 16…

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