Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Fri Sep 16th, 2022 at 03:52:18 AM EST
Since his election in 2010, Viktor Orbán has shifted Hungary sharply away from democracy and the rule of law, changing the constitution to stack the electoral system and the courts against his opponents, while dismantling the independent media. And now, the European Parliament has recognised the truth: that one of its members is no longer a democracy:
Hungary can no longer be considered a full democracy, the European parliament has said in a powerful symbolic vote against Viktor Orbán's government.
In a resolution backed by 81% of MEPs present to vote, the parliament stated that Hungary had become a "hybrid regime of electoral autocracy", citing a breakdown in democracy, fundamental rights and the rule of law.
While the vote has no practical effect, it heightens pressure on EU authorities in Brussels not to disburse billions in EU cash to Hungary that is being withheld over concerns about corruption.
Democracy is supposed to be a foundation of the EU, and its appalling that Hungary has been allowed to diverge this far from European principles before the Parliament has stepped in. And along with Poland, it shows that the EU needs effective mechanisms to sanction its own members to ensure their conformity with European law.
Thu Sep 15th, 2022 at 12:59:25 AM EST
Swedes went to the polls over the weekend, and after a tight count, appear to have elected a Nazi-coalition government. The right-bloc has a three-seat majority, and the neo-Nazi Sweden Democrats are the largest party within that bloc. And to gain power of course the "moderate" centre-right parties are willing to snuggle up with them to form a government. Oh, they won't have them in Cabinet - that would be going too far (for the moment) - but they're willing to rely on their support, and pay whatever policy price is required to get it. Which means Sweden is going to become a lot more racist, to keep the rich rich.
Frontpaged - Bernard
Fri Jun 24th, 2022 at 01:15:29 AM EST
Ukraine is now officially an EU candidate:
European leaders have granted Ukraine candidate status, in a historic decision that opens the door to EU membership for the war-torn country and deals a blow to Vladimir Putin.
EU leaders meeting in Brussels approved Ukraine's candidate status on Thursday night, nearly four months after the country's president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, launched his country's bid to join the bloc in the early days of the Russian invasion. Moldova was also given candidate status.
Zelenskiy immediately welcomed the move, calling it "a unique and historic moment" in relations with the 27-nation bloc. "Ukraine's future is in the EU," he tweeted.
Thu Jun 16th, 2022 at 03:28:10 AM EST
The Scottish government has announced plans for another independence referendum:
Nicola Sturgeon plans to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence in October next year if her government secures the legal approval to stage it.
Angus Robertson, the Scottish government's constitution secretary, said that provided ample time to pass the necessary legislation, set out the Scottish National party's case and stage a campaign.
The case for Scotland being allowed to decide its own future is clear - its their country, after all, and decisions about it should be made in Edinburgh, not Westminster. But we know how this will go: the Tories in London will refuse to permit any democratic vote. And support for independence will rise accordingly.
Mon Apr 4th, 2022 at 04:53:45 AM EST
Hungary went to the polls today in parliamentary elections, in which would-be dictator Viktor Orbán - Putin's man in Europe - was facing a unified opposition for the first time since taking power in 2010. Unfortunately, it didn't go well:
Frontpaged - Bernard
Fri Oct 1st, 2021 at 09:12:01 AM EST
The Dutch media is reporting that the European Commission is preparing to punish the UK for its Brexit dealbreaking.
[In Dutch. Shitty Google translate version follows]
The Commission wants a "permanent solution" to the disputes, not short-term arm wrestling. So in mid-October she will come up with new proposals to solve the problems with controls, forms and labeling without changing the protocol. The only UK demand that the Commission will never agree to is to remove the European Court's role as final arbiter on the correct application of EU laws. That is not only impossible under treaty law, but also politically impossible: it would prove Poland right in their attempt to inflate the primacy of EU law.
The Commission knows that it is counterproductive to announce a new ultimatum with a drum roll. London will sit back until the new date is in sight and then - hoping for limp knees at the EU - try to wrestle new concessions. So far that works. Exactly what the Member States did not want - the continual extension of transition periods - is now happening.
Partly for this reason, the Commission has started to privately inform the Member States about harsh sanctions if London still ignores the protocol at the end of this year. This does not only concern the usual lawsuits, but direct trade restrictions (import duties) as well as the denial of British requests to participate in (EU-funded) research programs. Also on the sanctions list: restricting the freedom of British financial services providers to operate in the lucrative European market.
But does the Union have the political courage to push things to a head at the turn of the year? In any case, the Member States will then know what is at stake and what weapons they have at their disposal. "There can be no more surprises," said an EU official.
Will the EU actually follow through though?
Thu Jul 15th, 2021 at 12:45:40 AM EST
England's massacres in Northern Ireland during "the Troubles" are just another in its long list of colonial crimes. And like their other colonial crimes, they plan to sweep them under the carpet, with an effective amnesty for their colonial criminals:
All criminal prosecutions relating to the Troubles and future attempts to take civil actions would be blocked under UK government plans that have united Northern Ireland's parties in opposition.
The proposals, which are also opposed by the Irish government, were announced by Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland secretary, who told MPs it was a "painful truth" that criminal investigations were unlikely to deliver successful outcomes.
Instead, the plan envisages the establishment of a new independent body, likened to South Africa's truth and reconciliation commission and intended to help families find the truth about what happened to their loved ones.
Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger
Wed Jul 14th, 2021 at 11:04:57 PM EST
Poland's constitutional court has decided to ignore the primacy of EU law:
Poland's top court has ruled that measures imposed by the European court of justice against the country's controversial judicial reforms are unconstitutional, in a decision that could have far-reaching implications for the bloc's legal order.
Judge Stanislaw Piotrowicz said on Wednesday that Poland's constitutional court had reached a majority verdict that EU measures regarding the "system, principles and procedures" of Polish courts were "not in line" with the Polish constitution.
The ruling came hours after the ECJ again demanded immediate suspension of a newly established body to oversee Polish supreme court judges, with powers to lift their immunity from prosecution or cut their salaries.
The confrontation is expected to ratchet up further on Thursday, when the EU court is due to issue another ruling on the disciplinary chamber's legitimacy and Poland's constitutional court - widely viewed as unlawful following a series of appointments of PiS loyalists - could announce its decision in a wider, even more consequential case on whether Polish law has primacy over EU law in general.
Fri Jul 9th, 2021 at 02:54:25 AM EST
Boris Johnson is officially surrendering England to Covid:
Boris Johnson will revoke hundreds of Covid regulations and make England the most unrestricted society in Europe from 19 July despite saying new cases could soar to 50,000 a day before masks and social distancing are ditched.
In a sign the government may reimpose restrictions this autumn, the prime minister warned the public against going "de-mob happy", however. He said opening up - including the lifting of all limits on sports events and nightclubs - would be safest during the school summer holidays and did not say the changes would be irreversible.
Johnson told a Downing Street press conference: "We must be honest with ourselves that if we can't reopen our society in the next few weeks, when we will be helped by the arrival of summer and by the school holidays, we must ask ourselves: when will we be able to return to normal?"
And apparently, you get to "normal", when no-one died of Covid, by having masses and masses of people die of Covid. The sociopathic toffocracy in action!
Frontpaged - Bernard
Wed Jun 23rd, 2021 at 02:34:29 AM EST
Four years ago, the Spanish government jailed nine Catalan leaders for the "crime" of advocating peacefully for independence. Now, it has pardoned them:
Spain's prime minister has called for a new "era of dialogue and understanding" as his Socialist-led government pardoned nine Catalan independence leaders for their roles in the illegal, failed push for regional secession four years ago that plunged the country into its gravest political crisis in decades.
The beneficiaries of the pardons are: the former regional vice-president, Oriol Junqueras; the former regional government spokesperson, Jordi Turull; the former Catalan foreign affairs minister, Raül Romeva; the former regional territorial minister, Josep Rull; the former employment minister, Dolors Bassa; the former regional interior minister, Joaquim Forn; the former speaker of the Catalan parliament, Carme Forcadell, and the two influential civil society leaders Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart.
All were found guilty of crimes including sedition and misuse of public funds and sentenced to terms of between nine and 13 years by Spain's supreme court in October 2019. They were also banned from holding public office for periods matching their prison sentences.
But while the pardon will mean Spain's victims are released from jail, they will still be banned from office, so people will be banned from election for peacefully advocating their political views. The pardons can also be reversed if the victims "reoffend", which suggests that Spain's intention is for ongoing persecution, rather than an actual step forward. As for the recipients, Jordi Cuixart has said straight-out "we will persist". Spain is continuing judicial persecution in Catalonia, and this is so blatant that it has been condemned by the Council of Europe. If they want a new era of dialogue and understanding, then they need to offer more: a complete amnesty, compensation for their victims, and a referendum. And if they don't surrender the first two, their victims will get it from the ECHR instead.
Wed Jun 16th, 2021 at 12:26:38 AM EST
Last year Hungary ended legal recognition of trans people and banned gay people from adopting children. Now, they've followed that up with a Russian-style "propaganda law", banning "promotion" of homosexuality in schools or on TV:
Hungary's parliament has passed a law banning gay people from featuring in school educational materials or TV shows for under-18s, as Viktor Orbán's ruling party intensified its campaign against LGBT rights.
The national assembly passed the legislation by 157 votes to one, after MPs in the ruling Fidesz party ignored a last-minute plea by one of Europe's leading human rights officials to abandon the plan as "an affront against the rights and identities of LGBTI persons".
The Hungarian legislation outlaws sharing information with under-18s that the government considers to be promoting homosexuality or gender change.
There's an obvious parallel with the UK's infamous and now-repealed Section 28. While it was never tested in court, one of the reasons for its repeal (besides basic decency) was that it was believed to be inconsistent with the European Convention on Human Rights. The Council of Europe seems to think Hungary's law is the same, describing it as "run[ning] counter to international and European human rights standards". Hopefully this time there will be a legal challenge, and this institutional homophobia will be outlawed forever in Europe.
Fri Jun 4th, 2021 at 12:12:40 AM EST
We all know multinational corporations cheat on their taxes, using complicated legal arrangements to funnel money through different jurisdictions to avoid paying anything to support the societies that host them. How obscene are such arrangements? This obscene:
An Irish subsidiary of Microsoft made a profit of $315bn (£222bn) last year but paid no corporation tax as it is "resident" for tax purposes in Bermuda.
The profit generated by Microsoft Round Island One is equal to nearly three-quarters of Ireland's gross domestic product - even though the company has no employees.
The subsidiary, which collects licence fees for the use of copyrighted Microsoft software around the world, recorded an annual profit of $314.7bn in the year to the end of June 2020, according to accounts filed at the Irish Companies Registration Office.
The company's profits jumped from just under $10bn in the previous year and compare with Ireland's 2020 GDP of 357bn ($433bn).
Sun May 30th, 2021 at 11:24:01 PM EST
Denmark has been spying on Germany for the NSA:
Denmark's secret service helped the US National Security Agency (NSA) to spy on European leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a European media investigation published on Sunday revealed.
The disclosure that the US had been spying on its allies first started coming to light in 2013, but it is only now that journalists have gained access to reports detailing the support given to the NSA by the Danish Defense Intelligence Service (FE).
The report showed that Germany's close ally and neighbor cooperated with US spying operations that targeted the chancellor and president.
The then chancellor candidate for the German center-left socialist party (SPD), Peer Steinbrück, was also a target, the new report disclosed.
As the article notes, we'd known they were cooperating with the Americans to spy within the EU since 2013. What's new is the targets, which are explosive. And its not just Germany that was targetted: the article says they also spied on politicians in Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and France.
The good news is that the Danish government sacked the entire leadership of the FE last year over this. But the fact it even happened is highly disturbing, and really makes you wonder who the EU's spy agencies are really loyal to: their own European governments, or their American "allies".
Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger
Sun Feb 28th, 2021 at 10:47:59 PM EST
Since the pandemic began, the UK government has restricted protests in an effort to contain the plague. But of course, they're plotting to make these restrictions permanent:
Concern over the government's limitation of the right to protest during lockdown continues to mount after it emerged that the home secretary, Priti Patel, is eager to grant police greater powers to control demonstrations once the Covid restrictions are lifted.
In a letter to HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) Patel wrote that although she appreciates protest is "a cornerstone of our democracy" she wanted to know how the Home Office could help police ensure protests in the future do not impact on "the rights of others to go about their daily business".
The point of protest is to tell people something they don't want to hear. Naturally, the targets feel inconvenienced by this. But that is part of living in a free society. Unfortunately, it is now crystal clear that the British establishment (and the Tories in particular) do not want to live in such a society anymore. But if they'd like to live in a society like Hong Kong, maybe they should just move there instead?
Sat Jan 30th, 2021 at 06:23:26 AM EST
Following a court decision that elections could not be delayed despite the pandemic, Catalonia is going to the polls on February 14th. Currently the polls show the ERC, JxCAT (both pro-independence) and Socialists (anti-independence) all roughly on 20% and battling for the lead (the latest one puts the ERC ahead). The anti-independence, authoritarian Citizens, who were the largest party at the last election, have bled over half their support and are going to be relegated to a distant fourth. As for the Spanish People's Party, they're dueling with the misogynist Nazis in Vox down in the minor ranks.
Currently the pro-independence parties - ERC, JxCAT, CUP and EnComu - are expected to get over 50% of the vote and retain power for another term. But the pandemic is likely to affect turnout, so who knows what will happen.
Fri Jan 29th, 2021 at 05:44:25 AM EST
Back in October, Poland's constitutional tribunal (stacked by the ruling "Law and Justice" party) banned abortion. After huge public protests, the ban was not implemented. But now, at the height of the pandemic, they've decided to bring it into force:
Although the ruling was handed down by Poland's constitutional tribunal in October and should have come into force swiftly, there was a three-month delay, apparently prompted by fears over the size of the protests that ensued. More than 400,000 people came out to protest in towns and cities across the country, leading some government figures to suggest a compromise was required.
Ultra-conservative elements of Poland's ruling coalition have long sought to tighten abortion laws further, even though polls show there is minimal support in Polish society at large for the move. Past attempts to change the law led to huge protests, leading to parliament stepping away from the move.
Instead, the law has been changed through the constitutional tribunal, which is mainly made up of those appointed by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party and has become politicised during the party's five years in power. On Wednesday, the tribunal issued a justification of its ruling, and the government later published the ruling, the formal requirements for the law to enter into force.
There have already been small protests. The question is whether there will be the massive ones seen in October (and in response to previous Law and Justice misogyny). If not, the next elections aren't until 2023, which is a long time to wait to fix this.
Fri Jan 15th, 2021 at 12:56:46 AM EST
A minor party has withdrawn from the Italian government, leaving it without a majority in the Senate and on the verge of collapse:
Italy has been plunged into chaos after former prime minister Matteo Renzi withdrew his Italia Viva party from the country's ruling coalition in a largely unpopular move that could end in fresh elections.
The political meltdown, which leaves the prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, without a parliamentary majority, comes at the worst possible time for Italy as it struggles to contain the coronavirus pandemic and emerge from economic quagmire.
Renzi announced the resignation of his two ministers, Teresa Bellanova and Elena Bonetti, following weeks of clashes over a variety of issues including Italy's post-Covid economic recovery plan.
Conte could now either offer his resignation to the president, Sergio Mattarella, who could give him a mandate to try and forge a new alliance, or go to parliament for a vote of confidence.
Sat Oct 31st, 2020 at 02:49:20 AM EST
The Polsih government's latest attempt to ban abortion (using a stacked supreme court, in a pandemic) is being rejected by the street, just like last time:
About one hundred thousand protesters took to the streets of the Polish capital, Warsaw, on Friday, in the largest demonstration of popular anger directed against Poland's ruling rightwing Law and Justice party (PiS) since it assumed office in 2015.
Protests have been held across the country since Poland's constitutional tribunal declared earlier this month that abortions in instances where a foetus is diagnosed with a serious and irreversible birth defect were unconstitutional. Such procedures constitute about 96% of legal abortions in Poland, which already has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe.
On Wednesday, pro-choice activists called a "women's strike" that attracted over 400,000 people to protests in over 400 towns and cities across the central European nation.
Mass protests during a pandemic are... not good. But clearly this is something Polish women think is worth risking death over.
Mon Sep 28th, 2020 at 11:53:08 PM EST
The list of Spanish abuses of Catalonia's democracy is long. When Catalans voted for independence, Spanish riot police seized ballot boxes and beat them in the streets. When they elected leaders to represent their views, Spain refused to allow them to take their seats, or jailed them for "sedition". And now, their supreme court has deposed Catalonia's elected president and barred him from office. His crime? Allowing a banner calling for freedom for political prisoners - the official policy of the Catalan government - to be hung on a government building:
Spain's Supreme Court confirmed on Monday that Catalan president Quim Torra should be removed from office as he is guilty of disobedience for displaying signs in solidarity with the jailed pro-independence leaders on public buildings during an electoral period last year.
In dismissing Torra's appeal, the top court upholds a previous verdict banning the Catalan head of government from holding public office for 18 months -- the second time in three years that a Catalan president is sacked.
Later in the afternoon, the Catalan High Court enforced Torra's disqualification and ordered vice president Pere Aragonès to move forward in replacing him. By 5 pm, Torra had been personally notified of the ruling.
The decision is set to anger pro-independence supporters in Catalonia, who will all but certainly see the ruling as Spain's umpteenth attempt to undermine their political aspirations by prosecuting their leaders.
Torra is the second Catalan president in a row to be removed from office by Spain - his predecessor Carles Puigdemont was overthrown by the imposition of a state of emergency and the imposition of direct, colonial rule. It is clear that Spain will not allow Catalans to rule themselves, or to peacefully and democraticly express their views, and will remove any elected leader who represents them. Which makes it crystal clear that Catalonia needs to be independent, simply in order to enjoy basic democratic rights. By denying those rights, Spain makes it clear that it is not a democracy.
Mon Sep 28th, 2020 at 03:29:44 AM EST
Over in Switzerland, the racist "People's Party" tried to have a Brexit-style referendum on ending freedom of movement with the EU, so they could stop the "flood" of foreigners. But the Swiss people said No:
Swiss voters have resoundingly rejected an attempt to tear up the country's agreement with the EU on the free movement of people, in a referendum that echoed the Brexit vote.
The largest party in the Swiss parliament, the rightwing, anti-immigration Swiss People's party (SVP), called the referendum, arguing that the country must be allowed to set its own limit on the number of foreigners coming in to work.
However, the initiative - opposed by government, parliament, unions, employer organisations and all other political parties because it would put Switzerland's overall relations with the EU in jeopardy - was rejected by 61.7% of voters, final results showed.
The EU had made it clear that freedom of movement was indivisible from the rest of their relationship, and that ending it would also mean ending trade, research and transport treaties, just as for the UK. Swiss voters clearly value those. And hopefully, it'll mean a fall in the fortunes of the People's Party as well.
Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger
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