Braila (AGERPRES) – In Romania, the largest bridge across the Danube has been opened to traffic. It will link the Black Sea and Danube delta ports to the rest of the country and the trans-European transport network.

The EU contribution to the project amounts to 363 million euros from cohesion policy funds.

With four lanes, a length of 2 kilometres and a location 38 metres above water levels, the bridge is the largest in Romania, the largest crossing the Danube and the third-largest suspension bridge in the European Union.

The bridge enables the free transit of vessels and replaces a slow and unreliable ferry ride, which was often interrupted in winter and inclement weather.

The opening of this bridge is expected to reduce journey times by approximately 50 minutes and serve around 11,400 vehicles per day.

The project will also contribute to the construction of 23.4 kilometres of transport infrastructure such as roads, bridges, junctions, level crossings and overpasses that will meet the needs of the population in the regions of Moldova and Dobrogea. (6 July)

Meta: Twitter competitor Threads not launched in the EU due to regulatory issues

New York (AFP) – Meta has decided not to make its new social network Threads, which is presented as a competitor to Twitter, available to internet users in the European Union, a source close to the matter said on Wednesday. The decision was linked to European regulations, it added.

The new platform, which looks very similar to Twitter, is preparing to make its debut at a time when Twitter is in a fragile state.

As far as Europe is concerned, the source says that Meta has chosen to wait while it clarifies the consequences of the new Digital Market Regulation (DMA), which came into force at the beginning of May.

The DMA aims to impose specific rules on key internet companies, including Meta, to prevent anti-competitive practices.

The group, based in Menlo Park, California, still intends to launch Threads in the European Union at a date yet to be determined. (5 July)

European Commission intends to close the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism

Brussels/Sofia (BTA) – The European Commission has announced that it sent a letter to the Council of the European Union about its intention to close the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM). Under this mechanism, the Commission has monitored the state of the rule of law in Bulgaria and Romania since the two countries joined the EU in 2007. The Commission has specified that monitoring would continue through the EU’s rule of law reports.

The response from the EU Council is expected by the end of August, European Commission Vice-President Vera Jourova said. She pointed out that the Commission had presented the last report on Bulgaria under the mechanism in 2019 and then clarified that the requirements were met. In Bulgaria and Romania, there was more to be done on the rule of law as in the rest of the EU, Jourova said.

She recommended diplomatic action to achieve a positive decision on Bulgaria’s and Romania’s accession to Schengen, specifying that there was no link between the CVM and the enlargement of the European area without border checks. Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders pointed out that the political situation in Bulgaria had been complicated of late, hampering the adoption of reforms. “I hope the changes that have taken place will facilitate the necessary reforms,” he said.

In the rule of law report presented this week, the European Commission recommended Bulgaria to continue reforms to limit political influence on the Supreme Judicial Council and to make media ownership transparent. The Commission noted that there was still a lack of effective investigations and convictions for high-level corruption. (5 July)

Trade in severed shark fins must stop, European Commission finds

Brussels (Belga) – The illegal trade in severed shark fins must stop. This was demonstrated by the more than 1 million signatories of a European citizens’ initiative, and now the European Commission also wants to take action.

The international trade in severed shark fins is facilitated by so-called ”finning”. This is a particularly cruel practice in which captured sharks have their fins cut off, after which the carcass is thrown back into the sea. The animal then bleeds to death on the seabed or dies from suffocation. Shark fins are particularly popular in East and Southeast Asia, to make shark fin soup or to use in medicine.

For that market, millions of sharks are caught each year in Europe. Spain is one of the main exporters. To combat finning, there is already a European regulation banning the practice, but according to the initiators of the citizens’ initiative ‘Stop finning – Stop the trade’, it is impossible to check whether exported fins were cut off on land after the catch, or already removed on the deck of the fishing boat. Indeed, there is too little monitoring of whether fishermen effectively land the sharks they catch.

The Commission had declared the citizens’ initiative admissible earlier this year and now wants to act on it. Without making any concrete promises, it said on Wednesday that it intends to examine the possibility of proposing new legislation to end the trade in severed shark fins. It will carry out an impact assessment on this and also wants to better monitor the trade in shark products.

The Commission stresses that sharks play a crucial role in maintaining the balance of marine ecosystems. Many shark populations are in a critical situation: as many as one-third of all shark species are threatened with extinction. Finning is one of their biggest threats. (5 July)

Shukova: Participation in LIFE Programme opened access to new European financial mechanisms

Skopje (MIA) – North Macedonia’s Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning Kaja Shukova met European Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius and signed an agreement between the European Union and the Republic of North Macedonia on cooperation in the Union’s LIFE Programme for the environment and climate action.

As announced by the Ministry of Education and Culture, the LIFE Programme is an instrument for financing the European Union’s action on the environment and climate. It aims to contribute to the implementation, updating and development of EU policy and legislation on the environment and climate through co-financing European projects with added value. It supports projects in the field of nature, biodiversity, circular economy, quality of life and climate change mitigation as well as the adaptation of and transition to clean energy.

With the signing of the agreement on the participation of the Republic of North Macedonia in this programme, as Minister Shukova said at the meeting, access to these financial mechanisms of the EU would be enabled for the first time. This would open up new opportunities of applying for projects and better social involvement in the implementation of European policies for the management of global challenges. It would facilitate the implementation of common goals for a healthier and less polluted environment, better protected nature, biodiversity and a decarbonised future. (July 3)

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.