April no4. European Bulletin

Read below for summary or for more detailed information go to the Euractiv website.

Swedish midwife takes case to ECHR over anti-abortion discrimination

A midwife who has been repeatedly denied employment in Sweden due to her anti-abortion stance has decided to refer her case to the European Court of Human Rights as a last resort. Ellinor Grimmark says she cannot carry out abortions because of her Christian faith and that she’s been discriminated against by several clinics because of it. The case has sparked a fierce debate in Sweden, one of the most liberal countries in the world, where abortion rates are among the highest in Europe and religious faith one of the lowest.

Southern EU leaders defend US strike on Syria
The leaders of southern EU nations said  (10 April) that a US missile strike on a Syrian airbase in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack was “understandable,” as diplomatic tensions mount over the incident.

ECAS: National administrations ‘lack EU spirit’
A “negative attitude” and a “lack of EU spirit” for solving issues such as issuing residence permits and claiming pensions was decried by representatives of the European Citizen Action Service (ECAS) at a public event on  (12 April). ECAS, an NGO that provides advice from 60 legal experts through a service called Your Europe Advice, presented its report, “Your Europe Advice – Annual Trends 2016,” in the Brussels Press Club.

Commission plans deal to settle east-west trucker dispute
The European Commission is planning a compromise between eastern and western EU member countries, which are sharply divided over labour rules for truck drivers who travel across the bloc to deliver goods, according to an internal memo from the executive’s transport policy arm. Higher wage countries like France argue lower-paid drivers from eastern EU countries undercut their workers, while Poland and several other countries want labour restrictions on their drivers lifted.

Poland has been one of the most outspoken countries pushing to exclude truck drivers from the posting of workers directive, which outlines how long workers can stay abroad temporarily. Polish truck drivers deliver more goods to other EU countries than drivers from any other member state. Most Polish truck drivers who work abroad travel to Germany, France and the UK.

Iceland magma drilling project may revive giant UK power cable link

Scientists will study the possibility of producing geothermal energy from magma for the first time, in a $100 million project in Iceland, which if successful could produce up to 10 times more energy than from a conventional well.The project is being coordinated by Iceland’s Geothermal Research Group (GEORG) and the British Geological Survey, with the participation of 38 institutes and companies from 11 countries including the United States, Canada and Russia.

Producing geothermal energy from magma would enable Iceland to export more energy and could also revive a plan to build a power cable from Iceland to Britain to provide power to British homes, in what would be the world’s longest power interconnector.

Europe’s digital union is stuck in Brussels
A draft EU telecoms law could cause major economic growth and create jobs, but there is a high risk it could be diluted by the Brussels compromise machine, write Steven Tas and Lise Fuhr.


MEPs want Commission to toughen up Privacy Shield under Trump
The European Parliament wants the European Commission to ‘Trump-proof’ the Privacy Shield data sharing agreement between the EU and the United States after the new US administration threatened to roll back some privacy safeguards.

EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova tried to calm MEPs’ fears that the Trump administration could slash a set of privacy rules that former President Obama introduced and which became the legal basis for the data sharing deal. If the Obama-era rules are repealed, the data sharing deal could be taken down in court like its predecessor, the Safe Harbour agreement, which was ruled illegal in October 2015 because of shoddy privacy rules in the US.

‘Chancellor Schulz’ will maintain austerity, won’t rule out Grexit
Martin Schulz will not change Germany’s approach to austerity if elected chancellor later this year. Neither has he ruled out Greece leaving the eurozone if reforms are not implemented. EURACTIV Germany reports.

The Social Democrat leader and former European Parliament president told the Financial Times that the prospect of Greece leaving the single currency is not off the table. In his first interview with non-German media since taking on the leadership of the SPD, Schulz said that Greece’s membership of the euro club is dependent on “to what extent reforms are implemented” by Athens. During his time as European Parliament chief, Schulz criticised the very concept of kicking Greece out as “irresponsible”.