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Ahead of a summit in Rome to celebrate the EU’s 60th anniversary later this month, the heads of continental Europe’s biggest economies endorsed the vision of a multi-speed Europe, in which some countries could deepen integration faster than others. EURACTIV France reports. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will support “more Europe” for all members instead of a two-speed model that would split the bloc, a senior Commission official has said, refuting previous allegations. EU leaders are now considering Juncker’s options ahead of a summit in Rome on 25 March marking the bloc’s 60th anniversary, where they will make their own declarations about the way forward after Britain’s expected departure in 2019. That date, combined with the rise of populist and nationalist figures, has triggered a wave of angst about Europe’s future. The EU faces legislative elections in the Netherlands this month, followed by presidential elections in France in April and May.
Austria calls for EU-wide ban on Turkish campaign events
Turkish politicians should be banned from political campaigning across the European Union, Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern said on Sunday (5 March), supporting the decision by some German towns last week to cancel Turkish referendum campaign events. Tensions between Berlin and Ankara were already running high after the arrest of a German-Turkish journalist (27 February), on charges Germany sees as unsubstantiated. However, German reactions have been measured for fear of jeopardising the EU’s deal with Turkey on migration.
German railways on track for Brexit boost
German railway company Deutsche Bahn remains interested in setting up a Frankfurt-London route. The UK’s Brexit vote and potential relocation of financial services to mainland Europe means demand could skyrocket. British media reported last week that Deutsche Bahn (DB) intends to introduce a high-speed rail service between Germany and the UK in in 2020 or soon after. The operator was awarded a certificate to run passenger services through the Channel Tunnel in 2013.
Klaus-Dieter Borchardt, a top European Commission official, declared that Europe’s transition to a green future will be impossible without the support of consumers, but admitted that the executive had been terrible at communicating its work, during a debate held (9 March). Members of the panel discussed possible solutions to the problems the clean energy movement is facing in Europe. This discussion took place almost two weeks after EU ministers backed the latest version of the Clean Energy for All package, which is part of the Energy Union plan.
Europe lacks a “global mentality” when it comes to innovation in the digital technology sector, Director of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT Digital) Willem Jonker told EURACTIV Spain. Jonker, in Madrid to attend the opening of EIT Digital’s Spanish HQ, said that “although there are many good ideas, we still think too much at a local level”.
Unitary patent expected this year, despite Brexit
The European Patent Office on Tuesday (7 March) said that the long-awaited EU patent will be launched this year and that it was confident that the UK would continue its involvement. EPO President, Benoît Battistelli, said that the court responsible for enforcing the Unitary Patent would be ready to operate by 1 December. The office is not an EU agency, but it was appointed by the member states as the responsible managing authority for the new patent. The Unified Patent court is essential for the new system. It must be ratified by at least 13 member states, including Germany, France and Britain.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day, women are still noticeably lacking from expert panels.
Three men and only one female speaker would feature on the European Commission’s annual International Women’s Day event on the topic of “Women@Work- The Myth of Male and Female Professions”.
The Commission defended itself by saying that all the efforts to get more female speakers were unsuccessful. The original speaker invitations had gone to three women but the two women from the European Commission declined and were replaced by men instead. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. According to EUPanelWatch, a Brussels-based volunteer-run campaign, which collects and publishes data on female representation in EU debates, in 125 events in 2015, across 263 panels with 1,261 speakers only 318 were women, 25% of the total.
In 2016, out of 1,500 speakers in 299 debates, 506 were women. Although this is an increase from the previous year, still in two-thirds of debates in Brussels the majority of speakers are men, while strikingly one third of these debates did not feature a single female voice.