European News – Weekend Snippets

The Inside Track

Post-democratic Poland. The European Commission insists that Warsaw respect the independence of its judiciary. The Law and Justice government says no. MEPs are increasingly in favor of invoking Article 7, if not more.

Up in smoke. Illegal sales of cut tobacco are on the rise in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, depriving state budgets of millions of euros in unpaid taxes. Post-communism never smelled so good.

We care a lot. Serbian workers are among the poorest paid in Europe. Demanding that the government increase the minimum wage, companies say they’ll only comply if Belgrade grants them more tax breaks.

Opportunity knocks. Courtesy of Fipronil, Benelux has abdicated its egg-producing throne. Thank ingenious Spanish farmers for helping fill the gap, as South Korea sought replacement imports from farmers on the Iberian Peninsula.

Sharing the blame. As Germany prepares for general elections 24 September, Transparency International chief Leo Hoffmann-Axthelm points out Berlin’s responsibility for the politicisation of the European Central Bank, blaming it on German inaction during the eurozone crisis.

Nuclear pays. Kazakhstan inaugurated a Low Enriched Uranium Bank on Tuesday, backed by the IAEA. The EU, one of the project’s biggest donors, hailed it as a “success for international cooperation” on nuclear non-proliferation.

Renewables are for the rich. Producers of solar electricity should pay higher taxes, according to the Czech government. The sector says it is being politicised before elections. In a country with six nuclear reactors, fear of relying on non-traditional power sources is likely to blame.

Ex-colonizers do it best. Immigrate at home. African and EU leaders gathered in Paris on Monday to broach the subject of migration, where support was expressed for moving the EU’s external border into Africa itself, so that asylum applications can be handled locally.

Populists prefer men. France is looking east to launch a reform of the EU and is seeking Central Europe’s support on defence, migration, trade and posted workers briefs to do so. Emmanuel Macron has an audience Merkel doesn’t, and is exploiting France’s lack of WWII baggage to break through.

Neoliberalism still sucks. A weekend poll showed French President Emmanuel Macron’s “dissatisfaction rating” rising to 57%, up from 43% in July. Melenchon would be preferable, but Le Pen will inevitably revitalise.

What was he smoking? If you repeat it enough times, it’ll come true. EU anti-terrorism coordinator Gilles de Kerchove says that the “modus operandi” of the cell that acted in Catalonia highlights how law enforcement in Spain and the EU in are stopping terrorists from getting guns.

Take that, America. The European Commission has said it will stand up for Spanish black olive producers if the United States slaps anti-dumping tariffs on the €65 million export trade, amid fears by EU farmers that tariffs on other products may follow.

[Source: By Joel Schalit | -/- Media Relations]
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