European Union

Regional News • Europe • European Union
European Union drafts Digital Services Act to regulate large technology companies
European Union drafts Digital Services Act to regulate large technology companies
Credit: Corentin Béchade / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The European Commission is working on a new legislative package in order to regulate major online platforms such as Facebook, Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, and others. According to an internal paper, one of the goals is to prevent "unfair practices". One rule could specify that the platforms would "not be allowed to pre-install their own applications exclusively" such as installing mobile apps on smartphones and preventing users to uninstall them.

In addition, there could be new restrictions on the usage of data generated by their services for their own commercial activities. This kind of data could only be used if made "accessible to other commercial users".

Regional News • Europe • European Union
European Union announces legal action against Great Britain
European Union announces legal action against Great Britain
Credit: © European Union 2019 – Source: EP / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0)

The European Union is taking legal action against Great Britain for violation of the withdrawal agreement. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has announced that the EU Commission has sent a letter to the British government over the new British Market Act passed by the House of Commons which is intended to override parts of the already valid withdrawal agreement with the EU.

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
Environment Department in the UK considers total ban on fur sales after Brexit
Environment Department in the UK considers total ban on fur sales after Brexit
Credit: unsplash.com / Juliane Liebermann

According to reports Zac Goldsmith, minister at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, is considering a ban on all fur sales in the United Kingdom following the leave of the European Union's single market.

A spokesperson for the department has commented on the reports that "fur farming has rightly been banned in this country for nearly 20 years. Once our future relationship with the EU has been established there will be an opportunity for the government to consider further steps it could take in relation to fur sales".

Regional News • Europe • European Union
EU Commission removes upload filters from digital package
Archive - protest against European Upload Filters in 2019
Archive - protest against European Upload Filters in 2019 Credit: unsplash.com / Markus Spiske

In a new proposal the legislators at the European Commission have removed a general filter obligation for uploaded content to digital platforms.

The original proposal would've required operators of digital communication platforms who want to continue to enjoy freedom from liability - the non-responsibility for content published by users - should proactively check for violations. This includes checking for copyright infringements or illegal content such as child pornography.

Whether and what replaces the filter obligation is currently still open.

Business • Economy
Investment bank JPMorgan announces move of €200 billion in assets from UK to Germany following Brexit
Investment bank JPMorgan announces move of €200 billion in assets from UK to Germany following Brexit
Credit: unsplash.com / Igor Flek

According to reports by Bloomberg, the investment bank JPMorgan Chase & Co. is moving assets worth around €200 billion from the United Kingdom to Frankfurt, Germany. The reason for the move is the end of the transition period and the Brexit with the United Kingdom leaving the European Union.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
EU Commission presents plans for EU asylum system reform
EU Commission presents plans for EU asylum system reform
Credit: Amio Cajander / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

The European Commission has presented plans for faster asylum procedures at the external borders, more deportations and the appointment of a "repatriation coordinator".

In case of high refugee numbers, all member states are to be obliged to show "solidarity" with the countries of arrival - be it through the reception of refugees or through assistance with deportations. At the same time, the Commission is planning more legal possibilities for immigration.

Technology • Internet & Web
Facebook states that withdrawal from EU is possible if data sharing with US servers will not be allowed
Facebook states that withdrawal from EU is possible if data sharing with US servers will not be allowed
Credit: unsplash.com / Thought Catalog

Following an announcement of Facebook Ireland's head of data protection Yvonne Cunnane, it is not clear how the company "could continue to provide the Facebook and Instagram services in the EU" following a preliminary order to stop the data transfer of European customers to servers based in the United States.

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) had voiced concerns over possible surveillance of the data by the United States government.

Law
European Court of Justices allows EU countries to restrict short-term rentals via platforms such as Airbnb
European Court of Justices allows EU countries to restrict short-term rentals via platforms such as Airbnb
Credit: Courtesy of Airbnb

The highest EU judges confirmed a French regulation according to which the short-term letting of apartments in large cities with more than 200,000 inhabitants and near Paris requires a permit. This would not violate the EU Services Directive, provided there were compelling reasons in the general interest. And the fight against the housing shortage is such a compelling reason.

Health
Oxfam research: Double of CO2 emissions caused by 1% World's richest compared to poorest 50%
Oxfam research: Double of CO2 emissions caused by 1% World's richest compared to poorest 50%
Credit: unsplash.com / Marcin Jozwiak

New research compiled in a report by Oxfam and the Stockholm Environment Institute suggests that between 1990 and 2015 "The richest 10 percent accounted for over half (52 percent) of the emissions added to the atmosphere between 1990 and 2015. The richest one percent were responsible for 15 percent of emissions during this time – more than all the citizens of the EU and more than twice that of the poorest half of humanity (7 percent)".

Arts, Entertainment, Culture • Art & Design
Banksy loses trademark rights to well-known flower thrower motif
Banksy loses trademark rights to well-known flower thrower motif
Credit: Britchi Mirela (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The responsible EU authority for intellectual property confirmed to the Deutsche Presse Agentur on Thursday that trademark rights for the "Flower Thrower" motif by the street artist Banksy have been cancelled.

The agency explained that Banksy is keeping his identity secret and has also repeatedly spoken out strongly against copyright in the past as he wrote "Copyright is for losers" in his book "Wall and Piece" in 2005. The British company Full Colour Black had applied for the cancellation of the trademark, as it prints and distributes images of Banksy's motifs on postcards, among other things.

Climate & Environment
Smoke from US wildfires has reached Europe, satellite images reveal
NASA's Aqua satellite captured this true-color image of the United States on Sep. 15, 2020, showing the fires in the West, the smoke from those fires drifting over the country, several hurricanes converging from different angles, and Hurricane Sally making landfall.
NASA's Aqua satellite captured this true-color image of the United States on Sep. 15, 2020, showing the fires in the West, the smoke from those fires drifting over the country, several hurricanes converging from different angles, and Hurricane Sally making landfall. Credit: NASA

According to scientists from the European Union's Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, smoke from the wildfires in the western United States has travelled 8,000 kilometres and reached Britain and other parts of northern Europe.

Mark Parrington, a senior scientist at the Copernicus Service has stated that "the scale and magnitude of these fires are at a level much higher than in any of the 18 years that our monitoring data covers, since 2003".

Regional News • Europe • European Union
President of the European Commission proposes stricter EU climate goals
President of the European Commission proposes stricter EU climate goals
Credit: European Parliament from EU / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has proposed stricter climate goals for the European Union in her first State of the European Union address. Following her proposal, 55 percent of emissions should be cut until 2030, compared to 1990.

Regional News • World
EU demands concessions from China before concluding investment agreements
EU demands concessions from China before concluding investment agreements
Credit: unsplash.com / Janine Meuche

The EU is demanding concessions from China before negotiations on the planned investment agreement are concluded. If an agreement is to be reached at the end of the year as planned, China still has a lot to do in the areas of market access and sustainable development, said EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Monday evening after talks with China's President Xi Jinping.

The EU could already celebrate as a success that on Monday China signed an agreement on the mutual protection of geographical indications for food. Champagne, Feta cheese or also Parma ham will thus in future be among 100 European products that are protected in China against unauthorized imitation. Conversely, the geographical indications of 100 Chinese products such as Pu'er tea, Moutai schnapps or Panjin rice will also be protected in the EU.

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
The UK admits bill to change Brexit agreement would "break international law"
European Flag at Downing Street
European Flag at Downing Street Credit: Frederick Tubiermont

The United Kingdom minister for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, announced to the Parliament Tuesday that the government would be willing to "break international law in a very specific and limited way" by ignoring terms of the Brexit agreement with the European Union.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Union Commission, said tweeted: "Very concerned about announcements from the British government on its intentions to breach the Withdrawal Agreement. This would break international law and undermines trust. Pacta sunt servanda = the foundation of prosperous future relations."

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated: "If the U.K. violates that international treaty and Brexit undermines the Good Friday accord, there will be absolutely no chance of a U.S.-U.K. trade agreement passing the Congress."

Regional News • Europe
Heavy fires break out in refugee camp Moria

The refugee camp Moria has heavily suffered from multiple fires that were fanned by strong winds. Many of the 12,000 migrants and refugees living in the camp have fled to surrounding areas or started making their way to Mytilini, the capital of the island Lesbos.

Business • Health Care
Pfizer and BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine gets approved for second trial

Pfizer and BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine BNT162b2 has been approved for its Phase II/III clinical trial by German Paul-Ehrlich-Institut. If the trials prove successful, Pfizer and BioNTech will try to seek regulatory approval as early as October.

"A large, controlled Phase III study is a crucial prerequisite to prove the safety and efficacy of a vaccine. The integration of sites in Europe, and now especially in Germany, is aimed at supporting an approval in Europe," so BioNTech CEO and co-founder Ugur Sahin.

Regional News • Europe
United Kingdom threatens to back out of parts of EU withdrawal treaty

According to reports from the Financial Times, the United Kingdom's government under prime minister Boris Johnson plans to render some regulations from the EU withdrawal treaty void.

The British government allegedly plans to pass laws on Wednesday that could override parts of the Brexit agreement on state aid and border regulations with Ireland.

Regional News • Europe
Johnson demands Brexit deal until 15th of October
Johnson demands Brexit deal until 15th of October
Credit: Ben Shread / Cabinet Office

The prime minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, has demanded a fully negotiated Brexit deal until the 15th of October. If this is not the case, there will be no free trade between the United Kingdom and European Union after the transition period, according to Johnson.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
Phil Hogan resigns as EU trade commissioner after breaching Ireland Covid guidelines
Phil Hogan
Phil Hogan Credit: European Parliament (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Phil Hogan, the EU trade commissioner, resigned Wednesday after the Irish government accused him of breaching Covid-19 guidelines during a visit to the country.

On August 19, Hogan attended a golf dinner in County Galway after not complying with quarantine rules when he arrived from Brussels.

Hogan said in a statement, "It was becoming increasingly clear that the controversy concerning my recent visit to Ireland was becoming a distraction from my work as an EU Commissioner and would undermine my work in the key months ahead."

Regional News • Europe • Russia
EU calls for independent investigation in Nawalny case

In the case of the allegedly poisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Nawalny, the EU is demanding that Russia conduct an "independent and transparent investigation". The European Union strongly condemns the alleged "attack on Nawalny's life", EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Josep Borrell declared in Brussels on Monday evening.

It is "imperative" that the Russian authorities launch an independent investigation "without delay" into the alleged attack on Nawalny's life, Borrell demanded. The Russian people and the international community wanted to know "the facts behind Mr. Nawalny's poisoning. Those responsible for the attack must be "brought to justice".

The Berlin clinic Charité, where the prominent critic is being treated by Russia's President Vladimir Putin, assumes after a thorough investigation that the 44-year-old was poisoned.