This Week in Europe: European Pillar of Social Rights, Article 7 on Poland and EU funds fraud in Romania

, by Radu Dumitrescu

This Week in Europe: European Pillar of Social Rights, Article 7 on Poland and EU funds fraud in Romania
Design 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 !

EU takes on fake news

EU commissioner for digital economy, Mariya Gabriel, announced plans to bring together a panel of experts, including members of academia and civil society, that will devise legislation regarding the phenomenon of fake news. The commissioner’s plans come after a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels during which the creation of a counter-propaganda cell within the European External Action Service was proposed.

Romanian S&D leader charged over EU funds fraud

Liviu Dragnea, leader of the ruling Social-Democrat Party (PSD), was charged with fraud against EU funds, creating an organized criminal group, and abuse of position for personal gain. The charge comes after Dragnea was convicted of voter fraud back in 2015. Last year, the PSD government devised a plan to pardon thousands of convicted criminals, including their leader, which was fiercely criticized by the EU Commission.

In the cooperation and verification mechanism (CVM) report issued on Wednesday, Vice-President of the Commission Frans Timmermans noted that “that the overall reform momentum in the course of 2017 has stalled, slowing down the fulfillment of the remaining recommendations”.

Greek government plans €1.4bn payout to austerity-struck citizens

Alexis Tsipras and the ruling Syriza party of Greece announced their intention to distribute “social dividends” of €1.4bn to people affected by the EU austerity measures. The Greek PM declared that the payout is possible due to the fact that Greece surpassed its primary surplus in the 2017 bailout target.

Flash floods kill 15 in Greece

The central region of Greece has been hit by floods after a week of heavy rains. Thousands of homes were wrecked and 37 people had to be hospitalized. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras declared a period of national mourning in the wake of the tragedy.

Lithuania takes measures against Russian human rights abusers

With a 91 to 0 vote in parliament, Lithuania has adopted the Magnitsky law, named after a Russian anti-corruption whistleblower who was jailed and killed. The law imposes asset freezes and visa bans on perpetrators of human rights abuses. Other countries who have adopted the law are Canada, Estonia, the U.K. and U.S.

EU officials sign the European Pillar of Social Rights

Signed by the president of the Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani and by Estonian PM Juri Ratas, on behalf of the member-states, the European Pillar of Social Rights outlines the social policies of the EU - equal access to the labour market, working conditions, social protection and inclusion.

MEPs use article 7 against Poland

On Wednesday, the EP adopted a resolution which represents the first step in imposing sanctions on Poland. These sanctions with recommendations that the eurosceptic and socially conservative Law and Justice (PiS) “"refrain from conducting any reform which would put at risk respect for the rule of law, and in particular the independence of the judiciary”.

Article 7 sanctions could result in the losing of voting rights in the council of the EU. “The independent judiciary is essential in the rule of law, you cannot use the majority to ignore the law, you cannot use democracy against the rule of law,” EU Commission vice-president Timmermans said.

ECJ: Non-EU spouses have the right to live in UK

The European Court of Justice ruled this week that an EU citizen who becomes a British citizen does not lose the right to have a spouse from a non-EU country live with them in the UK. The case followed after UK’s Home Office refused a British-Spanish citizen the right to have her Algerian husband live with her.

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