Belgian and Spanish prime ministers meet on sidelines of Göteborg summit

Belgian and Spanish prime ministers meet on sidelines of Göteborg summit

The Belgium prime minister, Charles Michel, and the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, met on Friday morning before the social summit in Göteborg (Sweden). The Belgium Prime’s Minister’s entourage has confirmed this. The meeting, lasting around twenty minutes, revolved around London-based European agencies. It included the choice of new cities for such agencies post-Brexit which is due to be made next Monday, around Belgium’s candidacy for Europol and indeed the future of Europe.

Read More

European Commission continues to monitor governance in Bulgaria and Romania

European Commission continues to monitor governance in Bulgaria and Romania

For 10 years the European Commission has monitored governance in Bulgaria and Romania under the so-called Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM). Yesterday it issued new reports stating that the CVM benchmarks had not yet been satisfactorily met by the two countries. The CVM was set up when Bulgaria and Romania joined EU in 2007 without being completely prepared for membership. If the hopes back then was that the CVM would only last for a few years and push the new member states to comply with all commitments, this has not…

Read More

Theresa May scoops first round of votes in Brexit bill by a narrow margin

Theresa May scoops first round of votes in Brexit bill by a narrow margin

On Tuesday, the British government won the first round of votes in parliament at Westminster by a narrow margin. A major battle is unfolding there on the bill intended to put an end to the supremacy of EU law in the United Kingdom. This is a necessary adjunct to the Brexit negotiations. The Labour opposition thus failed, also by a narrow margin, to vote through an amendment extending the post-Brexit transition period for a limited duration. Earlier in the evening, Theresa May’s Conservative government blocked, by a large majority, an…

Read More

European Commission launches strategy against fake news

European Commission launches strategy against fake news

The Commission intends to establish a High Level Expert group and launch a public consultation on fake news and online disinformation. The results will provide input to the development of an EU-level strategy on how to tackle the spreading of fake news, to be presented in spring 2018. “The freedom to receive and impart information and the pluralism of the media are enshrined in the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights,“ said First Vice-President Frans Timmermans yesterday (13 November). “ “We live in an era where the flow of information and…

Read More

Brexit: EU prepares for “possibility” of no agreement

Brexit: EU prepares for “possibility” of no agreement

The EU’s Chief Negotiator for Brexit, Michel Barnier, stated on Sunday that he is “preparing” for the “possibility” that no agreement will be reached with the British government. He stresses that he does not himself favour this. Speaking in an interview with the French weekly newspaper, Journal du Dimanche, he said, “This would not be my choice, which will restore the position we had 44 years ago (the date when the United Kingdom first came into the EU [then the EEC], editor’s note). However, it remains a strong possibility.” He…

Read More

Belgian workers among the most productive in Europe

Belgian workers among the most productive in Europe

In 2016, the level of Belgian productivity was the highest since the financial crisis of 2008. It has increased by almost 6% compared to 2012. This high level makes Belgium the second most productive country in Western Europe, with Switzerland at the top of the ranking. Labor productivity is defined as the value of output per full-time equivalent (FTE) or employee working full time. In Belgium it was € 296,000 per FTE. The average in Western Europe is 157,000 euros per FTE. The figures were reported in a report yesterday…

Read More

‘White Europe’: 60,000 nationalists march on Poland’s independence day

‘White Europe’: 60,000 nationalists march on Poland’s independence day

Xenophobic phrases, far-right symbols and religious slogans mark event also attended by families and branded ‘a beautiful sight’ by the interior minister. Tens of thousands of nationalists have marched through Warsaw to mark Poland’s independence day, throwing red smoke bombs and carrying banners with such slogans as “white Europe of brotherly nations”. The march organised by far-right groups was one of many events marking Poland’s rebirth as a nation in 1918, overshadowing official state observances and other patriotic events. Police estimated 60,000 people took part. Many were young men, some…

Read More

“There is a political crisis in Spain, not in Belgium,” says Charles Michel

“There is a political crisis in Spain, not in Belgium,” says Charles Michel

Prime Minister Charles Michel repeated to the Parliament on Wednesday that he does not wish to interfere with court decisions concerning the impeached Catalan Government, and in particular Minister-President Carles Puigdemont, currently staying in Brussels. There are diplomatic contacts with Spanish officials, and also at the European level, he added, evoking their discretion. On Wednesday, the opposition denounced the attitude of the N-VA representatives, including Federal Government Ministers, who did not hesitate to support their Catalan allies — going as far as suggesting asylum — and even to throw doubt…

Read More

Puigdemont demands EU reaction thanking New Flemish Alliance

Puigdemont demands EU reaction thanking New Flemish Alliance

The ousted Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, demanded a European Union reaction in his speech before the 200 Catalan mayors, meeting in Brussels on Tuesday. He also specifically thanked his “Flemish friends from the New Flemish Alliance.” This was followed by a round of applause, after several members of the Flemish nationalist party rose – indeed a standing ovation. Mr Puigdemont indicated, “Mesdames and Messrs Mayors, you have no idea what your presence here today symbolises for us, your solidarity, your attachment to these fundamental values which are in danger not…

Read More

Belgian minister tries to calm down situation with Spain

Belgian minister tries to calm down situation with Spain

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders deplored on Bel-RTL on Monday statements made by Belgian political figures on the Catalan crisis. “There is a row around this issue that exceeds the limits of what is reasonable in Belgium (…) Some people in Belgium are commenting on the crisis although it is not their role to do it,” he said from New Delhi (India) where he accompanies the royal couple on a state visit. Last weekend, Deputy Prime Minister Jan Jambon (N-VA) as well as the PS President and former Prime Minister…

Read More