EU to present its plans for the decarbonization technology race

Brussels (EFE) – This week, the European Commission will present its plans to increase industrial competitiveness, improve access to critical raw materials and reform its electricity market so that the European Union can compete with the United States and China in the technology race for the new zero-emission economy.

The plans are unveiled after a joint announcement by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and US President Joe Biden on Friday, stating they would begin to negotiate a trade pact. The pact is to favor European companies that produce electric vehicles and will establish a “transparent dialogue” on the subsidies both sides are giving for green energy. Von der Leyen considered the meeting “constructive” and noted that they had managed to find solutions to the tensions that had marked the transatlantic relationship in recent months, following the approval in the US of the so-called Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

This Washington law, with its 340 billion euros in green subsidies to local production, was the trigger for the EU’s industrial plan. Brussels wants to prevent companies from leaving the EU, who might be attracted by the massive aid and cheaper energy that other powers offer to a growing industry. With China planning to invest 260 billion euros over the next five years and Japan another 140 billion, initial estimates suggest that the EU should mobilize at least 350 billion for the sector. (March 12)

Council of Europe anti-racist commission: Slovakia fails to implement 2020 recommendations

Brussels/Strasbourg (TASR) – On Friday, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), a human rights monitoring body, published a report on the implementation of the 2020 priority recommendations in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

In the case of Slovakia, ECRI concluded that the authorities had not yet implemented the recommendation to develop an action plan for people from the LGBTI community and only partially implemented the recommendation to provide compulsory pre-school education to young children, including in municipalities with a significant proportion of citizens of the Roma ethnicity.

ECRI works within the Council of Europe (CoE), and in its conclusions point to the persistent delay in adopting an action plan and related legislation to strengthen equality for LGBTI persons. The anti-racist commission highlights that an attack took place on 12 October 2022 in Bratislava, which resulted in the death of two people from the LGBTI community. The attack was judged to be the result of the long-standing use of anti-LGBTI hate speech in the statements of politicians.

In the case of the second recommendation, kindergarten attendance was made compulsory for all children in Slovakia over the age of five. ECRI stresses that Roma children nevertheless suffer from the consequences of insufficient kindergarten capacities, a lack of territorial coverage, understaffing and segregation, especially in smaller towns.

In the case of the Czech Republic, ECRI found that the authorities had only partially implemented the recommendation to develop a national strategy to address areas of intolerance and discrimination against LGBTI persons and that they had not implemented the recommendation to desegregate Roma children in schools. The Czech authorities have already allocated financial resources to address this problem, but this has not brought about any substantial changes in practice.

Both ECRI conclusions are based on government responses and information from other sources. They concern only priority recommendations and are not a comprehensive analysis of all developments in the movement against racism and intolerance. ECRI was established in 1994. Its aim is to counteract the growing problems of racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance that threaten human and democratic values in Europe. (March 10)

Austria: six other Schengen countries also concerned about migrant movements

Brussels (APA) – Austria and six other Schengen countries have expressed concerns about the onward movement of migrants within the EU. In a joint statement to the EU Council of Interior Ministers in Brussels on Thursday, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland called for “effectively contain uncontrolled migration movements.” In particular, the countries expressed concern about the current status of the EU asylum system and the Dublin system.

Under the Dublin system, the EU country where migrants enter the EU first would be responsible for asylum procedures. In practice, however, the system functions inadequately across the EU. “The implementation of the Dublin rules has, especially in the context of increased arrivals to the Schengen area across all routes as well as challenges in the asylum systems of several Dublin States,
become more and more complex and consequently inefficient in practice,” the statement said.

The signatories are committed to swift negotiations on reforming the EU asylum system, particularly regarding the Regulation on Asylum and Migration Management and the Asylum Procedures Directive. These negotiations should lead to “a future-proof and workable system with clear criteria and balanced mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection,” the statement said. (March 9)

France: Macron’s close aide to stand trial for embezzlement of EU funds

Paris (AFP) – On Thursday, investigating judges in France ordered a trial against a pillar of the presidential majority and ten other people in a case of misappropriation of European public funds, AFP learned from a source close to the case.

François Bayrou, 71, who is close to President Emmanuel Macron, will have to answer for the alleged practices of MoDem, the centrist party he chairs and which is part of the presidential coalition in parliament.

Bayrou and other MoDem officials are suspected of having used EU funds to hire parliamentary assistants who would have worked, at least partially, for the party between 2009 and 2014 instead of helping elected MEPs in the Strasbourg parliament in eastern France.

Alongside Bayrou, other executives of the centrist party will be tried, including a former justice minister of ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy. This new legal case is likely to be embarrassing for Emmanuel Macron and his team. (March 9)

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.