This Week in Europe: Commission hits against Belgian media law, May seeks Brexit concessions from Macron, and more

, by Juuso Järviniemi, Pascal Letendre-Hanns

This Week in Europe: Commission hits against Belgian media law, May seeks Brexit concessions from Macron, and more
Image by Samuel Mork Bednarz.

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 !

May meets Macron to gain Brexit concessions

In a bid to whip up support among EU27 governments for her Brexit plan, UK Prime Minister Theresa May went to visit French President Emmanuel Macron. This meeting formed part of a wider diplomatic strategy hoping to soften up opposition to the UK’s preferred Brexit outcome, so far refused by Michel Barnier as “cherry picking”.

France is generally seen as having one of the most hardline positions on Brexit negotiations among the EU27 but it remains influential and so May had little choice but to try. Ultimately the meeting seems to have yielded little and the pressure mounts as time to find a deal is running out.

Racist attacks accelerate in Italy

Italy has seen a sharp rise in racially-motivated attacks on migrants and non-white Italians in the two months since the far-right Matteo Salvini moved into government. These attacks included 12 shootings, two murders and 33 physical assaults, compared to only nine attacks recorded during the same period in 2017. Anti-racist groups openly denounce Salvini’s politics as responsible for creating a climate of fear and aggression, inflaming tensions between communities.

Salvini has doubled down on his positions and tweeted a quote referencing the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini last Sunday, on the anniversary of the tyrant’s birth.

PiS plans blocked by Poland’s Supreme Court

Poland’s Supreme Court has effectively blocked government-backed changes to laws on judge removals until the case can be judged by the Court of Justice of the EU. Poland’s right-wing populist government has been accused of trying to undermine the independence of the judiciary by forcing Supreme Court judges into early retirement. Some have refused to go, however, and the court itself has ruled that judges can stay until the legality of the measure has been decided at the European level. There are already a number of separate legal cases against Poland over the rule of law dispute, as well as an investigation by the European Commission.

Commission opposes Belgian Parliament’s plan to charge EU journalists

Earlier in the summer, the Belgian Parliament passed a law that would force journalists attending EU summits to pay a €50 fee to cover accreditation costs. This week, the European Commission encouraged journalists to “file complaints” against Belgium because of the measure. The International Press Association expressed concern that the law would disfavour freelancers and small media companies.

Commission to offer Spain money to tackle migration

As the numbers of arrivals to Spain increase, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has stated that the EU will provide Spain with additional funds to help manage this increase. Though funds are limited, this increase is set to occur as soon as the money is available. Funds will also be directed towards Morocco to help it better manage its borders.

Slovak President worried about Russian Night Wolves base

Slovakia’s President Andrej Kiska commented on the base that the Night Wolves, a Russian motorcycle gang supported by the President, has recently established in the west of Slovakia. He called the base, equipped with military equipment, a “security risk” for the country, as well as “mockery” of Slovakia’s policy on Russia. The Night Wolves are currently on their “Slavic World 2018” tour whose route covers 13 countries in Central and Eastern Europe.

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