Brussels (dpa) – In the dispute over Brexit rules for the British province of Northern Ireland, the EU Commission has initiated four new infringement proceedings against the government in London. On Friday, the Brussels authority accused the United Kingdom of violating essential parts of the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol. Infringement proceedings can lead to a lawsuit before the European Court of Justice and result in a fine. In a spirit of constructive cooperation, certain infringement procedures had been shelved for more than a year, the EU authority said.

“However, the United Kingdom’s unwillingness to engage in meaningful discussion and the advanced procedure for the passage of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill by the UK Parliament run directly counter to this spirit,”

the EU authority said.

Specifically, the allegations are that, for example, current customs regulations are not being respected and that certain EU regulations are not being implemented. The UK now has two months to react. (July 22)

Forest fires: More area burnt than in 2021

Paris (AFP) – The forest fires that have raged in Europe in recent weeks, particularly in the western part of the continent which has been hit by heat waves, have already affected more surface area than in the whole of 2021, according to the European monitoring service.

According to figures published on July 16, fires have devastated a total of 517,881 hectares in the 27 countries of the European Union since the beginning of the year. This amounts to just over 5,000 km2, equivalent to the surface area of a French department such as Mayenne, or the islands of Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean.

In the whole of 2021, which was marked by numerous fires in Italy and Greece, 470,359 hectares (4,700 km2) had been devastated in EU countries, according to data compiled by the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS). (July 21)

EU and US concerns over government crisis in Italy

Rome (ANSA) – The government crisis in Italy and Mario Draghi‘s looming farewell are at the top of the concerns of Western partners and European institutions at this complicated time, amid the war in Ukraine, the energy emergency and soaring inflation. “The ballet of the irresponsible against Draghi may cause a perfect storm,” Paolo Gentiloni stressed in a very harsh tweet, adding that “now it is time to love Italy”.

“We have difficult months ahead of us but we are a great country,”

said EU Economy Commissioner, Paolo Gentiloni.

The Group of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament points the finger at the “populists and their party, who are responsible for the crisis,” writes President Iratxe Garcia Perez. The Commission does not officially comment, but refers to the close ties between Draghi and Von der Leyen that it had emphasized just a few days ago.

Even from the United States, without wishing to comment on domestic political issues, out of “respect” for Italian decisions, the White House lets it be known that “the partnership with Italy is strong and we will continue to work closely together on a number of priority issues, including support for Ukraine against Russia’s aggression”. But it is no secret that even in Washington there is anxiety about what is happening in Rome. At the time of the first rift caused by the populist party Movimento 5 Stelle, Joe Biden, had already stressed that he had “great respect and consideration for Draghi” (July 20).

Decreasing number of asylum applications in the EU

Brussels (Belga) – According to the European statistics office Eurostat, the number of non-Europeans applying for international protection in an EU member state fell by 28 percent in April, compared to the month before.

In April, a total of 54,145 non-Europeans applied for asylum in an EU member state, 66 percent more than in April of last year, but 28 percent less than in March of this year. According to Eurostat, the relatively strong decline compared to the previous month is mainly due to the decreasing number of Ukrainians who applied for asylum in the EU. In March, just after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there were almost 13,000 asylum seekers, in April this number fell to just over 1,500. Ukrainian refugees were granted temporary protection in the EU in March, automatically giving them one year’s right of residence.

In April, a further 5,555 people applied for asylum after an earlier application had been rejected. This represents an increase of 2 percent year on year and a decrease of 16 percent compared to March 2022. In Belgium, according to the figures, 2,320 people filed a first asylum application. In May, there were 2,550 and in June 2,930. Germany was in the lead in April, with over 14,000 applications, followed by France (11,045) and Spain (7,795). (July 25)

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