This Week in Europe

, by Radu Dumitrescu

This Week in Europe

Members of the TNF team recount big events from Europe from the past week, and point attention to news that may have passed notice. What did we miss? Comment on our Facebook page at !

Van hits crowd in Germany

On Saturday, a man drove a van into a van in the city of Munster. Several people were killed and at least 20 injured or in critical condition. The driver committed suicide in the van afterwards. German authorities say that there is no indication that the driver was in any way connected to Islamic terrorism, but that he had mental issues.

Manufacturing companies feel effect of Brexit

1 in 5 British manufacturing companies will lay off workers in the aftermath of Brexit, according to an industry study published by the Observer on Sunday. Moreover, two thirds of companies in manufacturing say that they would have to increase prices in order to deal with foreign currency costs, passing some of the costs to customers. With a 1.4% growth in GDP in the first 3 months of the year, Britain is at the bottom of the growth charts of the world’s largest economies.

Turkish citizens find refuge in Greece

Seeking safe haven from the Erdogan regime, some Turkish citizens have found it in a place that they were once told to hate, namely Greece. Relations between the two countries have been historically strained, and nothing has changed lately. One of the reasons is that 2,000 Turkish citizens have found refuge in Greece since the July 2016 failed coup. Many of them are followers of cleric Fethullah Gulen, accused by Erdogan to be the mastermind of the coup. Therefore, Turkey has repeatedly asked for their extradition. Greek courts, however, have rejected their demands time and time again, turning the country in a sanctuary for Turkish citizens.

2.7 million Europeans affected by Cambridge Analytica

On Friday, Facebook confirmed that up to 2.7 million Europeans were caught in the scandal involving Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy firm which used data to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. Justice Commissioner Věra Jourová said that “data of Europeans have been exposed to a huge risk, and I am not sure if Facebook took all the necessary steps to implement change.” On Thursday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that his company intends to implement Europe’s beefed-up privacy standards across its entire global network. This would mean the implementation of some of the world’s toughest data protection rules, including the potential for people to revoke how data is used by the social network if they believe their digital information is being misused.

EU calls on Israel to respect children’s rights

On Wednesday, EU representatives reminded Israel that “detention and imprisonment of a child shall only be used as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate time.” The comment was referring to Ahed Tamimi, a teenage activist who was arrested last December after having slapped an Israeli soldier, and who has accepted an 8-month sentence in prison. EU representatives also condemned the killing of several Palestinian children by Israeli forces and the use of live ammunition as “a means of crowd control.” EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, called for an investigation into the use of live ammunition against crowds. On 30 March, thousands of Palestinians took to the streets in the Gaza Strip for the first day of the “March of Return”, a Palestinian protest movement that will last until mid-May. The Israeli army responded by killing 17 people and injuring hundreds.

Portugal produces more clean energy than it needs

In March, Portugal produced more energy from renewable sources than it needed, he first time in the 21st century that renewables have topped 100% of its production. Hydro and wind power broke the 100% mark, fulfilling one of the key goals of the EU this year - a target renewable energy of 27% by 2030. During the same period last year, renewable energy was only able to meet 62% of Portugal’s electricity needs. The Iberian country’s success in March means 1.8 millions tons of CO2 emissions fewer in the atmosphere, not to mention savings of €20 million.

Germany refuses extradition, releases Puigdemont on bail

On Thursday, a German court in Schleswig-Holstein refused Spain’s request to extradite Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont on charges of rebellion. Instead, he was released on a €75,000 bail, ahead of a hearing for a lesser charge. The judges saw that Puigdemont was not personally involved in violence during the independence referendum, so his actions were not punishable under German law. The Catalan separatist figurehead could still be extradited on a charge of misusing public funds, the judges added, although more information is needed.

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