Scholz urges Erdoğan to take back migrants

Berlin (dpa) – German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has urged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to step up the repatriation of rejected asylum seekers to Turkey. After the two-hour dinner at the Chancellery on Friday evening, government sources stated that Scholz had stressed the need of a “robust mechanism” for this. A joint working group was due to present its findings soon.

Meanwhile, migration researcher Gerald Knaus, who is considered the architect of the 2016 EU-Turkey deal, has come out in favour of a new migration deal between the European Union and Turkey. “Germany is the main destination country for those who enter the EU from Turkey,” he wrote in a guest article published on the website of the German magazine Focus on Saturday. Knaus said that the German government’s promise to reduce irregular migration without human rights violations could not be achieved without the cooperation of Turkey.

Knaus suggested that Turkey should “once again declare its willingness to officially and quickly, as of a new cut-off date, take back anyone from Greece and Bulgaria who can receive a fair asylum procedure or protection as a Syrian in Turkey, in order to reduce this irregular migration legally and quickly.”

In return, Greece, Germany and other countries should promise Turkey the legal admission of refugees in orderly procedures, as they did in 2016. To this end, the EU must once again make money available for the accommodation of refugees in Turkey and initiate visa facilitation measures for Turkish citizens. (19 November)

European Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen announces candidacy for the Finnish presidential election

Brussels (EFE) – On Sunday, European Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen announced her candidacy for the Finnish presidential election. The campaign begins on 2 December.

In a message on her social networking site on X, Urpilainen said she was “ready” to become the Social Democrats’ candidate for her country’s presidential election “to create hope”, “to build bridges” and to leave “no one behind.” She also announced that she would “tour the country by Christmas.”

The elections to replace the liberal-conservative Sauli Niinisto, who has reached the maximum term of twelve years, are scheduled for 28 January 2024, and a second round in February is not ruled out.

Urpilainen is the third member of the European Commission to leave office this year to stand in national elections, after Bulgaria’s Mariya Gabriel in May and the Netherlands’ Frans Timmermans in August. (19 November)

Der Unternehmer Elon Musk, aufgenommen bei der Grundsteinlegung für die Lithium-Fabrik des Autoherstellers Tesla in Robstown. Elon Musk hat einen Medienbericht über einen möglichen Rückzug seiner Online-Plattform X (ehemals Twitter) aus der Europäischen Union zurückgewiesen.
US entrepreneur and owner of X, Elon Musk (Photo Angela Piazza/Corpus Christi Caller-Times via AP/dpa)

European Commission suspends advertising campaigns on X

Brussels (Belga) – The European Commission has asked its services to suspend all their advertising campaigns on social media platform X (formerly Twitter), due to “an alarming increase in disinformation and hate speech” circulating on the social media network, a spokesperson said on Friday.

Disinformation and hate speech were seen on multiple online channels, but “X is certainly quite affected,” the spokesperson said. “We have therefore advised services to refrain from advertising” on the platform, the spokesperson added. However, the recommendation does not mean that the Commission is withdrawing from X.

Since Elon Musk bought Twitter in late October 2022, the rules around disinformation have been relaxed, the number of staff engaged in content moderation has been sharply reduced and a number of controversial Twitter users made a high-profile comeback – with former US President Donald Trump being the best-known example.

Back in October, the Commission opened an investigation into X for possibly spreading “false information”, “violent and terrorist content” and “hate speech” in the context of the war between Israel and Hamas. That investigation is part of the application of the still relatively new Digital Services Act (DSA), which imposes stricter rules on online platforms to better protect internet users.

The ban on Commission services advertising on X also follows controversy over a campaign by the services of Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson in September. This campaign was suspected of microtargeting recipients on the basis of their political and religious beliefs, in breach of European data protection rules. (17 November)

European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Iliana Ivanova on a working visit in Plovdiv. Photo: Boyan Botev/BTA

European Commission gives €100 million for development of Regional Innovation Valleys

Plovdiv (BTA) – The Horizon Europe programme has earmarked 100 million euros for the development of Regional Innovation Valleys. The process was competitive and not on a cohesive basis, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Iliana Ivanova told journalists in the Bulgarian city Plovdiv.

The plan was to have 100 so called innovation valleys in Europe. Bulgaria had two good applications, one in Plovdiv, the other in Sofia, Commissioner Ivanova added.

The Regional Innovation Valleys involve interaction between business, education and research organisations, with the aim of catching up with the backwardness of some regions.

Ivanova said the Commission was trying to stimulate and support the convergence of regions, not only through cohesion policy, but also through programmes such as this one. She added that the Commission was working on simplifying procedures to make them more accessible.

Ivanova was a guest at a round table on issues related to the innovation ecosystem in the Plovdiv region, organised by the Plovdiv Agricultural University. (16 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.