Netherlands stunned as Wilders’ far-right party wins surprise victory

The Hague (EFE) – The sweeping victory of the far-right PVV party of Islamophobic Eurosceptic Geert Wilders has taken the Netherlands by surprise. The country is now facing a puzzle in forming a government, as many parties ruled out negotiating with the far right. However, its number of seats means the PVV cannot be cornered in opposition.

At 37, up from 17 in the previous elections in 2021, the PVV won the largest number of seats in the legislative elections. “The voter has spoken and said: we’ve had enough!” the far-right leader noted upon learning the data.

The left-wing bloc formed by the social democratic PvdA and the Green GroenLinks (PvdA-GL), led by former European Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans, is second by some distance with a total of 25 seats.

The right-wing liberal VVD of outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte, which is currently led by Dutch-Turkish Dilan Yeşilgöz, suffered an electoral blow in a campaign that promised tough policies on immigration and asylum, dropping 10 seats to 24 MPs.

All attention is now focused on the VVD and NSC, two centre-right parties which could sit at the negotiating table with the PVV, although Yeşilgöz said on Wednesday that she did not see herself in a cabinet with Wilders as prime minister.

Meanwhile, Wilders said that he would not push through anti-Islamic measures such as banning the Koran or closing Islamic schools (both items of his election manifesto) and promised to “adhere to the constitution”, in a bid to move forward in the government formation period, which will officially begin this Friday. (22 November)

Albania to benefit 1 billion euro from EU Growth Plan for Western Balkans

Tirana (ATA) – The Albanian Minister of Finance and Economy Ervin Mete stated that Albania would benefit from about 1 billion euros from the European Union’s Growth Plan for the Western Balkans, which was announced during the Berlin Process Summit held on October 16 in Tirana.

Mete said the aim was to achieve per capita support similar to that received by member states.

“To achieve this, it is necessary to implement reforms. The goal articulated in the program of the plan is for us to receive per capita financial support from the EU, in comparable terms to the support received by the member countries. Of course, it is challenging, because we have to carry out a series of reforms. The plan is encouraging and is proceeding with an accelerated schedule,” he declared. “A priority reform plan will be conceived, but de facto integration is aimed at before membership,” Mete emphasised.

“This is a good moment for all the countries of the region. There is an increased sensitivity of the EU. This is also due to geopolitical developments and it will be an impetus for both the government and businesses to be formatted to be a common part of the European market,” declared Mete. (23 November)

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights: Reconciliation a long way off in former Yugoslavia

Strasbourg (FENA) – Almost thirty years after the wars of the 1990s that led to the collapse of the former Yugoslavia, it is high time to achieve effective justice, reparations and truth for the victims, the thematic report of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović highlights.

Mijatović points out that close to three decades after the wars that tore the region of the former Yugoslavia apart, time is pressing to achieve effective justice, reparations, and truth for the victims. Reconciliation and social cohesion remain elusive and even peace seems threatened.

“There is a visible setback in the process of dealing with the past, which coincides with a more extensive decline in the level of respect for human rights and the rule of law in several countries in the region,” Mijatović pointed out.

A decade after the first Issue Paper on this topic produced by the Office of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, this current Issue Paper analyses the achievements and shortcomings of the processes to deal with the past in the region and the factors that stand in the way of a more positive impact.

It argues that dealing with a past scarred by gross human rights violations is not a backward-looking endeavour, but rather a necessary condition for a better present and future, based on respect for human rights and the rule of law.

In the report, Mijatović recognizes several innovative practices, such as efforts to ensure criminal responsibility for war crimes, solving the issue of missing persons and the role of civil society, which is crucial in supporting the process of dealing with the past through advocacy and innovative projects. The report especially emphasizes the importance of dealing with sexual war crimes and having a gender-sensitive approach. (23 November)

European Parliament rejects proposal to halve pesticide use by 2030

Strasbourg (STA) – In what is likely to have been the final vote on the proposal in the current legislative period, the European Parliament has rejected the European Commission’s proposal to reduce the use of chemical pesticides by 50 percent by 2030.

Last June, the European Commission presented a legislative proposal to reduce the overall use and risks of chemical pesticides by 50 percent by 2030. According to Brussels, the new restrictions would have reduced the environmental footprint of the EU food system, protected human health and well-being and helped mitigate the economic losses caused by declining soil health.

MEPs amended the Commission’s proposal, but ultimately rejected it by 299 votes to 207. At the same time, they rejected an initiative to refer the proposal back to the committee responsible, which is likely to be the end of the road for this legislative proposal during the current mandate.

“Today, we celebrate the victory of common sense in the European Parliament, which convincingly took a sensible decision and practically buried the harmful proposal for a regulation on the sustainable use of pesticides. It sent a message to the European Commission as well as to the ENVI Committee of the European Parliament and the rapporteur Sarah Wiener, that we MEPs reject it by a majority,” Slovenian MEP Franc Bogovič (EPP) said. (22 November).

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