RT France: European justice confirms the suspension of Russian news channel

Luxembourg (AFP) – On Wednesday, the EU General Court rejected the request of the state-owned Russian news channel RT France (formerly known as Russia Today) to revoke its suspension. The suspension was pronounced within the framework of the EU’s sanctions against Moscow. Russia immediately announced counteraction against Western media outlets.

In its decision, against which the Russian state media has announced it will appeal, the EU court argues in particular that this “temporary ban” does not “question” the freedom of expression “as such”, contrary to claims by the Russian state media, which was sanctioned after the invasion of Ukraine by Moscow.

“We will take similar measures against Western media working in the country,” stated Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov to the press. “We will not let them work in our country either,” he added.

Accused of being instruments of “disinformation” of the Kremlin, the media Sputnik and RT (including its French-language version RT France) were banned from broadcasting in the EU effective March 2. The ban, pertaining to broadcasts via television as well as the Internet, was announced by agreement of the EU member states shortly after the start of the war in Ukraine. (July 27, 2022)

Spain offers itself as an alternative to Russian gas supply in Europe

Warsaw (Europa Press) – Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has suggested that Spain has the potential to become a hub for liquefied natural gas, and could therefore be an alternative source of gas to Russia for several European Union countries. He emphasized that Spain has the “most extensive regasification infrastructure in Europe”, and would make it available to European partners, the aim being that the continent “should not be Putin’s energy hostage”. “Spain is willing to increase solidarity,” added Pedro Sánchez at a joint press conference in Warsaw with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, on the occasion of the XIV Spanish-Polish Summit.

Sánchez explained that 30 percent of European regasification facilities were located in Spain. Accordingly, the country has the capacity to export gas to other European countries. In this context, the President underlined that last June, 20 percent of the imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Spain were exported to other countries of the EU. (July 27)

The Commission welcomes the opening of the Pelješki bridge

Brussels (HINA) – The European Commission has welcomed the official opening of one of the biggest infrastructure projects financed by the EU and the largest in Croatia. The 2.4-kilometer bridge connects the village of Komarna on the mainland with the Pelješac peninsula. The county of Dubrovnik-Neretva in Southern Dalmatia is now directly connected with the rest of the country’s mainland. The two parts were previously separated by a short coastal strip of Bosnian territory.

The bridge and parts of the access roads have been open to traffic since Tuesday, July 26, and it is expected that the last phase of the project and the so-called Ston bypass will be completed by the end of 2023. The cost of the entire project, the bridge and the access roads, amounts to 525 million euros, including 357 million euros from European Union funds. Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms Elisa Ferreira stated that the Pelješki Bridge will accelerate economic development and strengthen the territorial cohesion of Southern Dalmatia and Croatia as a whole.

July 26, 2022, Croatia, Komarna: The bridge on the Pelješac peninsula connects the two parts of Croatia for the first time, which are separated from each other by a short coastal strip that belongs to Bosnia. Photo: Uncredited/AP/dpa

“The project is extremely important for Croatia, but also for the European Union. This bridge is a symbol of European solidarity and an indicator of financial and political support for Croatia. I am convinced that it will significantly improve the everyday life of citizens and be an important component of Croatia’s development,” Elisa Ferreira pointed out.

By shortening the travel time between Dubrovnik and Split, the bridge will greatly facilitate the daily life of Croatian citizens, as well as residents of neighboring areas. The unhindered flow of people and goods means easier access to public services, for example healthcare, but also commercial services in numerous sub-regional centers. According to the press release, tourism and trade will benefit from this better connectivity, and the territorial cohesion of Southern Dalmatia and the rest of the country will be strengthened. (July 26)

Austria voted for EU exemption for fallow land

Vienna (APA) – Austria has approved the EU Commission’s proposal to extend the use of fallow land for agricultural cultivation until the end of 2023. As a result, “we make an important contribution to global food supply. Every additional ton of grain and food is decisive,” said Minister of Agriculture Norbert Totschnig (ÖVP) in a statement to APA on Monday. National implementation of this exemption is now being prepared.

Biodiversity areas of Austria’s Agri-Environment Program (ÖPUL) will not be affected by this. In addition to the exemption for fallow land, the EU Commission also proposed to postpone the new mandatory crop rotation requirement for 2023 by one year.

“It is short-sighted to sacrifice ecologically valuable biodiversity areas for intensive agricultural production in times of worsening climate crisis and species extinction,”

criticized the spokeswoman of agriculture for Austrian environmental protection organization GLOBAL 2000.

In Austria, only 17 percent of the grain consumed is used directly as food, while 47 percent are used as animal feed. According to the environmental organization, the tillage of ecological priority areas has only “minimal effects on the supply situation”.

With the EU’s agricultural policy reform, which is to take effect from 2023, environmental standards for agriculture have been tightened. To protect the soil, the reform requires that farmers should not cultivate the same crops on the same soil for several years in succession. In addition, four percent of arable land should no longer be farmed in order to counteract species extinction there. This is to be ensured by expanding fallow land areas, flower strips or hedges.

Since the start of the Ukraine war, however, there have been demands to relax environmental protection in order to produce more grain. Ukraine is one of the most important wheat exporters in the world. Because of the Russian war, millions of tons cannot be exported. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Austria was also granted an EU exemption for 2022, which allowed for an additional 10,000 hectares to be cultivated for food production. (July 25)

This is a compilation of the European coverage of enr news agencies. It is published Wednesdays and Fridays. The content is an editorial selection based on news by the respective agency.