EPP chief Weber: AfD is “opponent and enemy”.

Berlin/Brussels (dpa) – German politician and President of the European People’s Party (EPP) Manfred Weber rules out any cooperation between the German conservative CDU and CSU parties and the far-right AfD. “The firewall stands,” the head of the EPP told German media group Funke. According to Weber, the AfD wants to destroy what the CDU and CSU have always stood for. “That is why for us it is not only a political competitor, but an opponent and an enemy.”

Weber announced that he wanted to put the fight against the AfD at the centre of the European election campaign. Elections in Germany are expected to take place on 9 June 2024.

The deputy CSU leader said that those who vote for AfD must know that they are endangering every second job in Germany. “We live from exports. And anyone who questions the European single market is putting the axe to our prosperity. In the same way, Germany’s security is being endangered because the AfD is nothing but a stirrup holder for Putin,” Weber said.

The AfD wants to abolish the European Union, Weber continued. “This is a fundamental attack on the historical achievements of the Union. We will defend the legacy of (German politicians) Adenauer, Strauß, Kohl and Merkel – and put (the fight against) the AfD’s destructive idea at the centre of next year’s European election campaign. A battle for the soul of Europe is coming – also in Germany.”

At the same time, Weber defended his rapprochement with post-fascist Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. He said that Italy was needed to solve the migration issue. “We are currently implementing a migration agreement with Tunisia together with Italy. This will reduce arrivals in the EU.”

Commenting on the current very strong poll numbers for the AfD, Weber said, “In Europe, we have had the rise of populists and radicals for years. Germany has been relatively immune up to now – also because it was led in a stable way in terms of domestic politics during the Merkel years. Now we have a development similar to that in other countries.” (9 July)

Zvizdić calls on NATO for deployment of soldiers in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Brčko district

Sarajevo (FENA) – Ahead of the alliance’s summit on July 11 and 12, Chairman of the House of Representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) Denis Zvizdić called on NATO to make a decision on the deployment of NATO soldiers on the territory of Brčko district in BiH.

After the war, the former municipality of Brčko in the north of Bosnia was declared by international arbitration to be a district that has its own separate local administration and is not part of either of the two Bosnia and Herzegovina entities.

The call to deploy NATO troops in the Brčko district comes amid growing security concerns in BiH following several moves by Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik to break away from BiH and move closer to Serbia.

“Bearing in mind that the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Western Balkans will also be discussed at the summit, I invite the members of the NATO alliance, the friends of integral, sovereign, multi-ethnic, anti-fascist, European and democratic Bosnia and Herzegovina, to deploy NATO soldiers to the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the basis of Annex 1A of the Dayton Peace Agreement and Article 7 of the Brčko Statute District of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” said Zvizdić.

With such a decision, he said, the project of secession of the BiH entity of Republika Srpska from Bosnia and Herzegovina would be stopped by a preventive measure, and then permanently disabled. At the same time, he emphasised, one of the biggest dangers facing Bosnia and Herzegovina would be successfully eliminated.

“The overwhelming majority of BiH citizens wants peace, stability and progress and with great satisfaction and sincere support would welcome the decision on NATO forces in Brčko District of BiH as a permanent solution to the long-standing anti-state and secessionist policy,” said Zvizdić. (9 July)

The EU can have its own generative AI system “within five years,” says Bruno Le Maire

Aix-en-Provence, Bouches-du-Rhône (AFP) – On Saturday, the French minister for the economy said that it was possible for the European Union to build its own generative artificial intelligence (AI) system “within five years,” which he believes would help to improve the productivity of a “languishing economy.”

“Generative artificial intelligence will enable us, for the first time in several generations, to become more productive and more efficient,” Bruno Le Maire told an audience at the Rencontres économiques d’Aix-en-Provence in the South of France.

“Before laying the foundations for regulating artificial intelligence, I would therefore urge us to innovate, to invest and to set ourselves the goal of having a European OpenAI within five years, with the necessary computers, scientists and algorithms. It can be done,” he added.

It is science “that will finally enable us to make productivity gains in a European economy that is a little sluggish,” more “long-winded” than “high-speed,” he insisted. (8 July 2023)

Leuven research centre imec plays key role in European Chips Act

Leuven (Belga) – The ambition of the European Chips Act, proposed in February of last year, is to double the production capacity for computer chips in Europe by 2030. Currently, the EU has a 10 per cent market share. Since demand for chips is also expected to double by 2030, the ambition actually amounts to a quadrupling of current production capacity.

To reinforce the plans, European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen, together with Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon and Flemish Minister for Work and Economy Jo Brouns, visited Leuven’s imec institute on Friday. imec is a world-renowned research centre in nano technology. Just about every new chip technology discovered in the world is tested at imec on a slightly larger scale. This allows learning what additional needs there are to move from a lab setting to a scale of mass production: imec forms the bridge between innovative discoveries and manufacturing companies.

“The role imec plays in the European Union’s ambitions will be particularly significant. To be less dependent on East Asia, we need to scale up our production here in Europe: imec is essential for our economic security. For investors who need to research and test their innovations before moving to mass production, it is an important place,” von der Leyen said.

The EU plans to invest up to 750 million euros in imec under the Chips Act, and for every euro the EU invests, the Flemish government will do the same. Thus, the total investment could reach 1.5 billion euros. The intention is to invest the money in a new pilot line at imec, which will further develop chip technologies. More specifically, the current clean room in Leuven will be expanded. The clean room, a completely shock and dust-free area, is where the research effectively takes place: all high-tech equipment to develop chips comes together there. (7 July)

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.