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Russia hosts far-right gathering

23 Mars, 2015 - 08:10

Representatives of about a dozen far-right groups from across Europe gathered in Russia yesterday (22 March) for a pro-Kremlin conference, as concern swirls over Moscow's alleged attempts to court extremists on the continent.

About 150 members of Russian nationalist and neo-Nazi European parties -- including Greece's Golden Dawn and Germany's National Democratic Party – met in Russia's second city Saint Petersburg to berate the West for its stance on the Ukraine conflict and to promote "traditional values".

Sarkozy’s party wins first round of French local elections

23 Mars, 2015 - 08:00

Former President Nicolas Sarkozy's conservative UMP party and their allies won the first round of French local elections yesterday (22 March), denying Marine Le Pen's far-right National Front (FN) first place.

The result is a surprise setback for Le Pen, who hoped her resurgent anti-immigrant, anti-euro party would emerge on top in the first round, boosting her goal of being a serious contender in the 2017 presidential election.

Could Oslo's decision to divest from coal inspire bigger cities to do the same?

23 Mars, 2015 - 07:45

Oslo’s move to sell its stocks in coal companies sets a precedent – but the real prize for divestment campaigners would be London or New York.

Ecodesign can drive a circular economy

23 Mars, 2015 - 07:27

The circular economy has become one of the latest buzzwords in Brussels. The challenge now is to make sure it becomes an operational pillar of the EU’s policymaking, writes Stephane Arditi.

Stephane Arditi is policy manager for products and waste at the European Environmental Bureau, a federation of more than 140 environmental NGOs from across Europe.

Silent killers in focus at Glasgow cardiovascular conference

23 Mars, 2015 - 07:22

SPECIAL REPORT / Growing rates of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes have been on the agenda for a long time, with poor diets and sedentary lifestyles focusing most of the attention. But other silent and sometimes unknown killers will take centre stage at a major health conference in Scotland. 

Brussels will breathe a sigh of relief when I'm gone, says Cameron

20 Mars, 2015 - 18:19

EU leaders and officials will breathe "a sigh of relief" if David Cameron loses May’s national elections, the British Prime Minister said Friday (20 March) after possibly his last European Council meeting.

The next summit will take place in June, after the general election. If Cameron wins, he has promised an in/out referendum on the UK’s EU membership. If he is defeated, the next meeting of heads of state and government will most likely be attended by Labour leader Ed Miliband.

Juncker unaware of Ukrainian oligarch who copied his investment plan

20 Mars, 2015 - 17:05

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Friday (20 March) he was not aware that a Ukrainian oligarch close to Moscow had set up a strategic investment fund for the country, to which several European VIPs have loaned their names.

Dmytro Firtash bought the Ukrainian service of Euronews, and yesterday Kyiv decided to revoke its license.

The Ukrainian authorities suspect that Firtash, who is under home arrest in Vienna and awaits extradition to the US on a number of charges, including bribery, is trying to buy influence.

Natural disaster reduction agreement a 'disappointment'

20 Mars, 2015 - 17:04

International negotiations on disaster risk reduction ended on Wednesday 18 March with a disappointing agreement, despite the recent drama in Vanuatu. Some have seen this as a bad omen for this year's UN climate negotiations. EurActiv France reports

Policymakers must support families affected by Down syndrome

20 Mars, 2015 - 15:02

For many parents, the realisation that their child has Down syndrome is a whirlwind of emotions.  Still in some parts of Europe in 2015 a diagnosis of Down syndrome can be a sentence to a life of institutionalisation, without hope or possibilities, writes Maureen Clarke.

Ukraine bans Euronews

20 Mars, 2015 - 13:13

While EU leaders discuss how to counter Russian propaganda, a pro-Moscow Ukrainian oligarch bought the Ukrainian service of Euronews, and Kyiv decided to revoke its broadcasting license.

The European Union is set to launch its first operation in a media war with Russia, within days of EU leaders approving the campaign at a summit yesterday (19 March).

Athens opposes EU energy strategy, blocks privatisations

20 Mars, 2015 - 12:26

The Syriza-led government will be against an Energy Union that undermines Greece's national interests, including in its relations with Russia, said Greek energy minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, who also ruled out any privatisation schemes for the country’s energy sector.

Lafazanis, who belongs to the leftist wing of the Syriza party, said that Athens is not willing to follow EU’s energy strategy as it currently stands.

‘Intelligent’ technologies open new avenues for European transport

20 Mars, 2015 - 09:01

Connected vehicles filled with communication technologies offer an unprecedented opportunity to achieve the European Union's dream of an integrated multi-modal transport system, according to EU policymakers and industry experts.

MEPs and interest groups took stock of the Union's transport policy at a European Parliament public hearing on Tuesday (17 March).

Following Shakespeare’s lead on climate change

20 Mars, 2015 - 08:51

Gas, while not zero carbon, is the best option to significantly reduce emissions at a reasonable cost, writes François-Régis Mouton.

François-Régis Mouton, chairman of GasNaturally

In Shakespeare’s King Lear, the Duke of Albany warns that “striving to better, oft we mar what’s well.” In 1772, this became in Voltaire’s words “Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien,” which translated into the well-known proverb “the best is the enemy of the good”.

Leaders broadly endorse 'Energy Union' plans, leave details to later

20 Mars, 2015 - 08:47

European leaders on Thursday (19 March) threw their weight behind proposals for a single market for power and gas, based on better connections between member states, but left prickly discussions to later.

EU launches operation to counter Russian propaganda

20 Mars, 2015 - 08:42

The European Union is set to launch its first operation in a new propaganda war with Russia, within days of EU leaders giving formal approval to the campaign at a summit yesterday (19 March).

Officials told Reuters that a dozen public relations and communications experts would start work by the end of March in Brussels with a brief to counter what the EU says is deliberate misinformation coordinated by the Kremlin over Moscow's role and aims in Ukraine, and elsewhere in Europe.

EU leaders struggle to keep unity vis-à-vis Russia

20 Mars, 2015 - 08:37

At their summit on Thursday night (19 March), EU heads of state and government couldn’t decide on an automatic roll-over of sanctions against Russia, which will expire in July. They also could not agree on having deals with Gazprom scrutinised by the European Commission, either.

A formal decision will be taken at the next EU summit in June, as to continuing the sanctions. Should one not be taken, they will be automatically renewed.

Brussels makes overture on ‘data flow’ agreement in TTIP

20 Mars, 2015 - 08:22

Negotiations on the free flow of data could be considered as part the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), but only after an agreement is reached on the EU’s data protection regulation, EU officials said yesterday (19 March).

Speaking at AmCham EU’s annual Transatlantic Conference, a senior official said that the EU is “on the same page as the US theoretically on the issue of data flows”.

But he added, “Until the EU’s data protection regulation has been agreed, we cannot introduce such concepts within the TTIP negotiations.”

House of Lords praises Capital Markets Union

20 Mars, 2015 - 08:05

The House of Lords welcomed plans for a Capital Markets Union on Thursday (19 March), calling it “a major engine for stimulating growth.”

Greece promises to deliver full reform list after three-hour 'mini summit'

20 Mars, 2015 - 07:49

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras once again stole the show at an EU Council summit in Brussels Thursday night (19 March).

At the request of Tsipras, the European Council President, Donald Tusk, managed to arrange a three-hour long informal meeting to discuss Greece, whose economy is crumbling under the weight of accumulated debt.

> Read: Tusk arranges Greek crisis meeting at summit

UKIP MEP suspended after expenses scandal

20 Mars, 2015 - 07:37

A UK Independence Party (UKIP) MEP was suspended yesterday (19 March), and barred from standing in May’s national elections, amid accusations of European Parliament expenses fraud.

Janice Atkinson was also stripped of the party whip by UKIP, which said it was “incredibly disappointed” with the South East England MEP. She was elected in last year's European elections, which saw UKIP returned as the most successful British party.