Wednesday, 20 October 2021: Polish PM accuses EU of blackmail, Debate to reform EU fiscal rules, Oil poisoning survivors threaten suicide at El Prado protest


Polish PM accuses EU of blackmail,

  • The EU Commission will sanction Poland for a Constitutional Court ruling that posed a „direct challenge to the unity of the European legal order,“ Commission President Ursula von der Leyen vowed on Tuesday
  • The ruling in effect rejects the core principle that EU law has primacy over national legislation
  • Von der Leyen: „We cannot and we will not allow our common values to be put at risk.“
  • The Polish government has in recent years restructured the judiciary in a manner the EU Commission and many EU lawmakers fear undermines judges‘ independence
  • Morawiecki, who faced a grilling from some corners of the EU Parliament, in turn accused the EU institutions of unfairly singling his country out
  • Morawiecki: „Blackmail must not be a method of policy.“
  • EPP leader Manfred Weber said Morawiecki’s speech was „sowing the seeds of division and conflict in the EU“

Brussels kicks off debate to reform fiscal rules,

  • As Europe’s economy recovers from the shock of the pandemic, Brussels has decided to resume the politically sensitive process of reviewing the EU’s fiscal rules, which were suspended in March 2020 to allow greater spending to cushion the impact of the crisis
  • EU capitals have until the end of the year to send in their positions. Views range from Northern calls for making the rules easier to understand and enforce to Southern pleas for more leniency to handle high debt and battle climate change
  • EU Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni: „I am looking forward to an open and frank discussion with stakeholders and member states, with many contributions and no taboos.“
  • Cutting down public debt will determine the EU’s ability to respond to future economic shocks, said Valdis Dombrovskis, the Commission’s executive vice-president

Poland doubles troop contingent on border with Belarus,

  • Almost 6,000 Polish soldiers are now guarding the country’s border with Belarus in stepped up security measures in the face of a surge in migrants crossing from Belarus
  • Since the beginning of the month, the border guard has recorded 9,600 attempted crossings into its territory
  • German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has offered to send officers who would take instruction from their Polish counterparts, according to German news agency DPA
  • Two migrants have died in a van on the Balkan route
  • Denmark is extending border control for some travellers from Sweden until May 2022 because of an ongoing threat from militant Islamists and organised crime
  • Sail boat with 34 migrants in the Mediterranean waits for help

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EU says Turkey still backsliding on reforms

  • The EU Commission said on Tuesday that Turkey’s bid to join the bloc had „come to a standstill“ amid serious democratic shortfalls
  • In its most critical annual report since Turkey began membership talks 16 years ago, the Commission said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had overseen a continued erosion of democracy and the rule of law and had ignored the EU’s recommendations last year
  • The report also suggested that Ankara was no longer serious about delivering on EU-backed reforms
  • According to the European Court of Human Rights, Turkey is violating freedom of expression with its law to protect the reputation of the head of state

COVID-19 in Europe

  • Germany may miss its target to donate 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses this year
  • New coronavirus infections in the Netherlands jumped 44% in the week through Tuesday
  • Bulgaria will make a Covid „Green Certificate“ mandatory for indoor access to restaurants, cinemas, gyms and shopping malls
  • Latvia announces four weeks of lockdown as Covid cases spike
  • Lithuania starts providing booster shots against Covid
  • Austrian ski resort Ischgl sees itself prepared for the ski season
  • New mutation of Delta variant under close watch in UK

Stéphane Séjourné elected as Renew Europe leader: The Renew Europe group on Tuesday elected French MEP Stéphane Séjourné, a close adviser to President Emmanuel Macron, as leader of its group in the European Parliament. The centrist, liberal bloc — the Parliament’s third-largest group — backed Séjourné by acclamation, as he was running unopposed. Renew Europe was in need of a new leader after Dacian Cioloş, a Romanian MEP and former prime minister, stepped down as the group’s chair earlier this month to lead his political party back home. Séjourné emerged as Cioloş’s successor after Dutch liberal MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld withdrew from the race.

EU agricultural reform: How big farm lobbies undermine EU’s green agriculture plan
European Court of Human Rights: Bulgaria found guilty of violating rights of outspoken judge
Brexit disputes threaten to leave Gibraltar with hard border
Strong earthquake hits the eastern Mediterranean


I reject the language of threats and I will not have EU politicians blackmail Poland,
said Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki at a heated parliamentary debate in Strasbourg.


Greece, Egypt, Cyprus warn Turkey against unilateral actions: Greece, Egypt and Cyprus have warned Turkey to stop taking unilateral actions in the eastern Mediterranean during a summit of their leaders in Athens on Tuesday. Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades reaffirmed their determination to continue their collaboration on issues of mutual interest, enhancing peace, security and stability in the wider region.

Oil poisoning survivors threaten suicide at El Prado protest: Survivors of a mass canola oil poisoning four decades ago occupied the Prado museum in Madrid for a few hours and threatened to kill themselves if the government did not respond to their demands. Shortly after protesters arrived, police removed some of them from the scene while others left willingly. Thousands of people developed lung diseases that were later related to the consumption of processed rapeseed cooking oil. Thousands of others had debilitating syndromes for life.,

Czech turmoil over removing ailing President Zeman’s powers: Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis has called on the head of the president’s office to resign immediately over alleged impropriety in exercising the powers of ailing President Milos Zeman. Police are investigating allegations of „criminal acts against the republic“.

Separatists end blockade of hotel housing conflict monitors in eastern Ukraine

  • Russian-backed separatists on Monday ended their blockade of a hotel housing international conflict monitors in eastern Ukraine
  • The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said on Sunday its monitors were unable to leave their patrol base in a hotel in the separatist-controlled town of Horlivka while the separatists demanded the officer’s release
  • The incident was sparked by the capture of an officer by Ukrainian armed forces last week
  • It was one of several incidents reported by the OSCE of its monitors being prevented from carrying out their work since the officer’s capture
  • The OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) has been deployed in eastern Ukraine since 2014 with the aim of arranging dialogue between Kyiv’s forces and the separatists

Germany 1: Former Nazi camp secretary goes on trial over murders of 11,000 people
Germany 2: Three probed over deadly Leverkusen chemical blast
Italy: Centre-left takes control of key cities in blow to Five Star
Austria: Coalition will likely extend leniency programme at the last minute
Spain: Seville becomes the first major city in the world to categorise and name heat waves
Sweden’s new border headache: Drug boats


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Italian senator suspended for refusing to show health pass: Italian senator Laura Granato has been suspended without pay for entering the country’s senate without a COVID-19 health pass. She had refused to show her digital health pass on Tuesday while attending a meeting about the pass itself. The incident was reported to the senate’s presidency, which decided to sanction her. Granato will not be allowed to enter the Italian parliament building or take part in its work, Senate President Maria Elisabetta Alberti Casellati announced.


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