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PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2016 3:02 am 
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Why Do Europe’s Muslims Hate The West?
31 March 2016

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The attack at the Brussels airport carried out by European Muslims should not have been a surprise, considering how most of them feel about the West. (ZUMAPRESS.com/Newscom)

Occidentophobia: Europe’s Muslims despise the West and its culture, surveys show. The only thing surprising is that European governments continue to invite hundreds of thousands more of them to make Europe their home.

Recent terrorist attacks on Paris, Belgium and Britain, and a wave of brutal sexual assaults in at least six countries, raise a logical question: Why do members of the “religion of peace” so despise the place that has embraced them, allowed them cultural and religious freedom, given them welfare and even tolerated the growing violence in their communities?

There’s no easy answer. Europeans — and many Americans — routinely self-flagellate over terrorist attacks, asking themselves: “What terrible thing have we done to deserve this?” The sad answer is: nothing.

A 2013 survey by Ruud Koopmans of the Berlin Social Science Center found significant hostility of Muslims in Europe and an unwillingness to integrate with European society. “Almost 60% agree that Muslims should return to the roots of Islam, 75% think there is only one interpretation of the Quran possible to which every Muslim should stick and 65% say that religious rules are more important to them than the laws of the country in which they live,” he wrote. And, despite the welcome they get in Europe and the largesse doled out by the EU’s expansive welfare state, 54% of Europe’s Muslims believe that the “West is out to destroy Islam.”

Dutch author and journalist Leon de Winter, writing in Politico’s European edition, calls this “Occidentophobia” — hatred of the West. “What did ‘we’ do to ‘them’?” de Winter asks. “We opened up our cities, our houses, our wallets. And in our secular temples of progress — our metro stations and airports and theaters — their sons are killing themselves and taking our sons and daughters with them.”

There are an estimated 44 million Muslims in Europe, or roughly 6% of the total population. That will rise to about 58 million, or 8% of the population, by 2030, estimates before the recent flood of newcomers show. Given the depth of their antipathy toward the place they now call home, it’s only surprising that there isn’t even more terrorism.

Nor is the Koopmans survey a statistical outlier. Repeated polls in recent years show a powerful undercurrent of anger and resentment toward Europe that is nothing short of shocking. After more than 70 years of experimenting with bringing millions of Muslims into Europe to become Europeans, surveys find instead an implacable population of unassimilated, unacculturated people who share few if any of Europe’s Enlightenment-inspired beliefs.

For example, a 2013 poll of young Muslims in Belgium — where the most recent Islamist terrorist attacks, killing 34, took place — found that 16% believe terrorism is “acceptable.” A poll of young Muslims in Britain by Pew Research in 2007 showed a shocking 35% believe that suicide attacks against civilians are justifiable.

Maybe we shouldn’t be shocked. After all, the beliefs of Muslims around the world are starkly at odds with those in the West. For instance, a poll of Turks in 2009 found 31% support suicide attacks against Westerners in Iraq — and Turkey is a member NATO. Inside Europe, 42% of France’s Muslims believe suicide attacks are OK. Feeling a bit smug about the U.S.? Don’t. Here, 26% of younger Muslims here in the U.S. believe suicide bombing is justified.

Actions follow beliefs. Those who are intolerant, who hate infidels (i.e., all non-Muslims), who believe they have a special historic grievance, who think violence is not only acceptable but called for, and who don’t share the same ideas about civil society, individual rights and tolerance as the rest of the West, will be almost impossible to assimilate. “As a consequence of demography, history, ideology, and policy, western Europe now plays host to often disconsolate Muslim offspring, who are its citizens in name but not culturally or socially,” wrote the Council on Foreign Relations way back in 2005. As recent events show, things have only gotten worse.

Europe can’t be safe until it cinches up its borders and sends those who don’t want to become Europeans home. Either that, or they can give up on the whole idea of Western culture.

Source: Investors.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2016 11:19 am 
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EU blasted for ‘useless spending’ over court expansion - by one of its own judges
By Greg Heffer
5 April 2016

In a bombshell 88-page report Franklin Dehousse, who is a judge in the EU’s General Court, delivered a scathing verdict on the “manifestly excessive” expansion of the Luxembourg-based court.

Last year, EU leaders decided to double the number of General Court judges to 56, despite the court itself only asking for an extra 12.

Unable to decide which of the 28 member states would get an extra judge, it was decided each would instead get two each - landing taxpayers’ with an estimated extra £16million-a-year bill. The extra judges earn more than £180,000-a-year with generous allowances on top.

Mr Dehousse, who has served in the General Court for 12 years, accused EU bosses of trying to hide the actual size of the backlog of cases in the General Court as they tried to justify the massive expansion. He said bureaucrats and MEPs had “sought to prevent a thorough analysis of the backlog”.

Attacking the failure of member states to agree on the number of judges needed, Mr Dehousse said such squabbling had also caused the “excessive growth” of top bureaucrat Jean-Claude Juncker’s European Commission. The Belgian judge wrote: “This weakness has become a clear source of useless spending, and risks now contaminating the EU judicial system.” He also described how the General Court had been hugely inflated “without any clear vision” as to how the extra judges might actually be used.

Mr Dehousse noted this came at the same time as member states’ governments are squeezing public spending across Europe, including cash spent on courts. Backing up claims from eurosceptics that unelected EU judges sitting in Luxembourg now possess far too much control over national parliaments, Mr Dehousse questioned the “exceptional legislative power” of the higher European Court of Justice (ECJ). He said even supreme courts in member states did not have the same power as the ECJ, which has a “quasi-monopoly” over proposing new EU laws.

Mr Dehousse also claimed companies’ and individuals’ “right to a fair trial” could be hampered by the “non-transparent and opaque” workings of EU courts in the allocation of cases to different judges, which he even suggested could trample over human rights law.

Those campaigning for Britain to leave the EU at the upcoming in/out referendum on June 23 seized on Mr Dehousse’s report as yet more evidence of the EU courts’ harmful impact on the UK. Matthew Elliott, chief executive of Vote Leave said: “Our lives are affected more and more by unaccountable and unelected EU judges whose judgements have made the UK less safe and our lives more expensive. It will come as no surprise that such an opaque institution would seek to expand further and feather its nest. We already hand over £350 million to Brussels every week without paying for more EU judges as well.”

Last month, Mayor of London Boris Johnson warned fellow MPs having to obey EU judges imperils Britain’s national security. The leading Tory pointed to ECJ rulings preventing Britain from deporting criminals and stopping security services from monitoring potential terrorists.

Source: Express UK

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2016 9:54 am 
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EU slammed for not knowing of key official's offshore firm
By LORNE COOK and PAN PYLAS
22 September 2016

BRUSSELS (AP) -- The European Union's executive body was accused Thursday of failing to properly check the business interests of its top officials after leaked documents showed its former competition chief was a director of an offshore company based in the Bahamas.

Critics pounced on the revelation that Neelie Kroes, who led the European Commission's powerful anti-trust unit between 2004 and 2010 and is now a paid adviser to Uber and Bank of America, had an undisclosed interest in a company in the Bahamas as further evidence of the commission's lax approach to vetting. As a result, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is facing calls to tighten up the rules on potential conflicts of interest. Juncker was already under pressure to do so following the news this summer that his predecessor, Jose Manuel Barroso, had taken a top job at investment bank Goldman Sachs.

Kroes' name was one of the most high-profile to emerge in a cache of documents of the Bahamas' corporate registry that was leaked Wednesday by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and media partners. The leak revealed the names of directors and owners of more than 175,000 Bahamian companies, trusts and foundations, ranging from prime ministers and princes to convicted felons.

The disclosures follow the international uproar over the leak of the so-called "Panama Papers" earlier this year that revealed details on offshore accounts that helped foreigners shelter their wealth. Like Panama, the Bahamas, a chain of 700 islands in the Atlantic Ocean, is a renowned tax haven.

Anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International said the European Commission's verification procedures are simply not good enough. "It is incredible that something like this - which is a clear breach of the rules and could have led to a major conflict of interest - was undetected by the European Commission for so many years," Transparency's EU director Carl Dolan told the Associated Press. "The European Commission carries out very limited checks or verifications on the self-declarations of Commissioners when they come into office."

The commission argued it had been powerless to make Kroes disclose all of her business interests. "There are certain things that even the strictest rules can't fix," chief European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas told reporters. In the future, he said the commission "will make sure that memory doesn't fail here when it comes to declarations of interest." He did not explain how it would do so.

Kroes was revealed as director of one company - Mint Holdings - that she had not declared when she became the EU commissioner for competition in 2004. Mint Holdings had been allegedly set up from the United Arab Emirates, with the aim of raising money to buy some assets from energy giant Enron, which subsequently collapsed following an accounting scandal. Kroes, who in 2010 moved on to become the commissioner responsible for digital matters until 2014, said through a lawyer that she did not declare her role because the company never became operational, according to the ICIJ. She did, however, declare other business interests. Kroes, who is Dutch, informed the commission about the facts last Friday in an email.

Juncker has written to her seeking more details. The commission could also examine decisions she took during her term in office to identify whether there may have been any conflict of interests. If she is found to have breached EU laws, Kroes could face court action, which might lead to her losing her generous European Commission pension or other benefits.

The revelations surrounding Kroes come in the wake of the controversy surrounding Barroso, who joined Goldman Sachs after his tenure as European Commission president ended. His move was criticized by those who see it as an inappropriate use of his experience in public service. Goldman Sachs has a bad image in some parts of Europe as it is alleged to have helped the Greek government hide details about its national debt for over a decade. "Barroso has already undermined the image and the credibility of the commission by announcing that he will work for Goldman Sachs, the bank which helped Greece to conceal its public accounts," said Gianni Pittella, the Italian president of the Socialist and Democrats group in the European Parliament.

Other European lawmakers said the latest revelations surrounding Kroes symbolize a wider malaise gripping the EU. "The European Commission too often means European Corruption. It is this European Union of big business and ruthless theft of Brussels oligarchs which people disdain. The very same politicians that preach to our people to cut back on wages, pensions and public services join shady criminals in the trillion euro industry of tax dodging, money laundering and corruption," said left-wing German lawmaker, Fabio De Masi.

Britain's interior minister, Amber Rudd, is also reported to have been named in the files as being a director of two offshore companies. Before entering Parliament in 2010, Rudd had had a wide-ranging career in business. A spokesperson for Rudd played down the significance of the leak: "It is a matter of public record that Amber had a career in business before entering politics."

Pan Pylas reported from London. Helena Alves in Brussels contributed to this report.
Source: AP

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 7:21 pm 
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EU member countries endorse visa-free entry for Ukrainians
2 March 2017

BRUSSELS (AP) -- European Union member countries have backed a proposal to allow Ukrainian citizens into the bloc for short stays without visas.

Ambassadors of EU member states on Thursday endorsed an agreement reached by negotiators earlier this week. It will allow Ukrainians who have biometric passports to enter the EU for up to 90 days within any 180-day period. The visa waiver will apply to all members of the 28-nation EU except Britain and Ireland. The agreement also won't give Ukrainians the right to work in the EU.

The European Parliament must still sign off on the agreement.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 7:36 am 
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EU chief to EU parliament: "You are ridiculous"
By RAF CASERT
4 July 2017

BRUSSELS (AP) -- The head of the European Union's executive body denounced the bloc's parliament as "totally ridiculous" during a spat over the meager attendance at Tuesday's plenary session for the prime minister of tiny Malta.

After EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker thanked the few dozen of the 700-plus legislators in the huge atrium for showing up, he insisted that the "parliament is not serious" since lawmakers failed to attend the day's keynote debate in larger numbers. The session centered on Malta's 6-month presidency of the EU, which ended last weekend. Malta has 415,000 people in contrast to the EU, which has half a billion.

EU Parliament President Antonio Tajani chided Juncker and asked for "a more respectful attitude." "The Commission does not control the parliament. It is the parliament that should be controlling the Commission," he said. To which Juncker retorted: "There are only a few members in the parliament to control the Commission. You are ridiculous."

The Commission prepares rules and regulations for the bloc and runs its day-to-day business. Juncker is considered a key leader of the 28-nation bloc. The parliament has increased its clout over the past year but many EU decisions are still made by the leaders of the member states or by the Commission, not by the European Parliament. For many, being an EU legislator is still perceived as an easy job for politicians without a big national portfolio or veterans seeking a leisurely path to retirement.

The exchange at the legislature in Strasbourg, France, was even more amazing since Juncker and Tajani belong to the same EPP Christian Democratic group. EU Vice President Frans Timmermans said the two men discussed the incident and "then it was off the table again."

The views of the parliament bore out Juncker's assertion, with row after row of empty seats. Philippe Lamberts of the Greens groups, one of the few to show up, was seen applauding the rebuke of Juncker.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was attending the plenary. While he was still in the hall, Juncker referred to the German and French leaders while scolding the parliament. "If Mr. Muscat would have been Mrs. Merkel - tough to imagine - or Mr. Macron - easier to imagine - we would have had a full house. The parliament is totally ridiculous," Juncker said.

Timmermans said "this is what happens when impassioned politicians speak from the heart" before adding "especially when you are from a smaller country and you believe prime ministers deserve the same level of respect whatever the size of their country." Gianni Pittella, the leader of the Socialist bloc, said attendance should have been better but added that "whenever we have major events, votes on major files, members of the European parliament are there."

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 08, 2017 9:57 am 
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EU budget chief expects Turkey aid to be cut over crackdown
7 August 2017

BERLIN (AP) -- The man in charge of the European Union's budget says he expects aid to Turkey worth billions of euros to be suspended because of the government's crackdown on suspected opponents.

EU budget commissioner Guenther Oettinger told Germany's Bild newspaper in comments published Monday that a 4.3 billion euro ($5.1 billion) fund had been intended to "bring Turkey closer to Europe." The aid included training for judges and prosecutors and is supposed to continue until 2020. Oettinger was quoted as saying that "in view of the political developments in Turkey, I can't imagine that such projects will continue to be funded."

Turkey has fired thousands of judges and prosecutors suspected of links to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen following a failed military coup last year. Overall, some 50,000 people have been arrested.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 08, 2017 9:59 am 
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Billions of euros in aid to Turkey? For WHAT? Turkey isn't even in the EU. The EU budget is out of control!
:-x :-x :-x

:x :x :x

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 11, 2017 11:27 am 
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Moldova criticized for offering citizenship for cash
10 August 2017

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) -- Moldova's government was criticized by an anti-corruption group Thursday for offering citizenship to people who invest in the East European state.

Under an amendment, people who invest 100,000 euros ($117,000), buy real estate or lend the state 250,000 euros ($292,000) for five years, can obtain citizenship. Moldova's government needs to raise funds in one of Europe's poorest countries where the average monthly salary is $315. Parliament amended current legislation on Dec. 26, which went largely unnoticed. It went into effect six months later.

Veaceslav Negruta of Transparency International Moldova told the Associated Press Thursday the measures could "legalize dirty money," in the former Soviet republic where corruption is endemic. Analysts say that the law could also allow citizens from Russia and other former Soviet states or Iran to travel freely in the European Union. Moldova's President Igor Dodon has visited Moscow and Tehran in recent months and wants to develop closer relations with their governments.

Moldova signed an association agreement with the EU in 2014. Moldovans don't need visas to travel to the EU.

The law states that up to 5,000 people can obtain citizenship by investing money, but does not clarify whether this is an annual figure or an overall one.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 7:10 pm 
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Vintage train visit raises tension over Hungary’s EU funding
By Andrew Byrne in Felcsut, Hungary and Michael Peel in Brussels
19 September 2017

Three times a day, a bright red antique train engine trundles 6km along a narrow-gauge railway line through the Hungarian village of Felcsut, home of prime minister Viktor Orban, pulling two mostly empty carriages behind it.

Felcsut’s nostalgia train, which closed in the 1970s but reopened thanks to €2m in EU funding, is a striking example of the investment that has taken place in Mr Orban’s home town, where tax-deductible corporate donations have helped to build a football stadium that can seat nearly 4,000 — or roughly three times the population.

At a time of growing tensions between eastern and western EU members, richer countries are increasingly questioning the allocation of tens of billions of euros in EU funds to countries like Hungary and Poland. That has moved Felcsut into the middle of a political storm. On Tuesday, a delegation from the European Parliament’s budgetary control committee inspected the train and other Hungarian projects funded by western European taxpayers.

The visit has sparked an angry row between Budapest — which accuses the committee of “political discrimination” against Mr Orban — and the committee chair, Ingeborg Grässle, who has complained of Hungarian political obstruction of her work. Hungary’s opposition parties say Felcsut’s train exemplifies the government’s misguided allocation of billions of forints in public funds, much of them EU-backed.

The project is “nonsensical”, according to Benedek Javor, a Hungarian opposition member of the committee. “It doesn’t make any sense, there are no real tourist attractions around here and the line doesn’t link to anywhere,” he said, shortly after the group’s 35-minute train journey.

The inspection came days after German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that Hungary could lose EU funds if it failed to comply with a European Court of Justice ruling this month on accepting refugee “quotas”. Her warning has opened a fresh debate over €350bn in EU funds for the 2014-20 budget cycle, much of which go to the poorer countries of central and eastern Europe despite concerns over threats to the rule of law and accusations of cronyism in public contracts.

Member states are gearing up for negotiations for the next EU budget cycle — giving richer countries a chance to try to exert their power. Large nations in the bloc have more than once proposed using structural funds as a lever by tying them to political goals. Berlin sparked a row in May when it proposed in an internal document to make money conditional on adherence to democratic principles and human rights. Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission president, condemned the proposal as “poison for the continent”.

At the same time, critics say the injection of billions of euros in EU funds into poorer eastern economies subsidises crony practices and schemes with no clear economic rationale, like the Felcsut railway line. Brussels allocated €100bn in structural funds to Poland for 2014-20, making it the largest beneficiary. Hungary’s €25bn for the same period amounts to more than 3 per cent of its GDP annually — the highest proportion for any EU country. More than one-third of public procurement contracts in Hungary attract only one bidder, versus an EU average of 21 per cent, according to Transparency International Hungary, which also estimates that nine out of 10 EU-funded projects are overpriced by an average of 25 per cent.

The value of EU funds to Hungary “is proportionally greater than that of the Marshall Plan to European countries after World War Two”, says Jozsef Peter Martin, executive director of TI Hungary. “The data reveal practices in Hungary that out-lie European averages and pose major corruption risks.”

There are now growing calls for more oversight from Brussels. EU Commissioner Vera Jourova has suggested linking access to funds to accepting a role for a new European Public Prosecutor in tackling fraud. “It’s very logical that states that want further massive financial injections should be under [the prosecutor],” she told reporters in August.

Budapest rejects the accusations of cronyism and insists that public contracts are awarded strictly in line with EU rules. Janos Lazar, a senior government minister, said annual ticket sales for the Felcsut line amounted to Ft17.2m, satisfying funding commitments. Zoltan Kovács, spokesman for the government, hit back at Ms Merkel’s threats, saying her warning amounted to “financial blackmailing”. He added that attempts to tie the rule of law to financing were an unjustified effort to “relate things that do not relate”. Mr Kovács said: “Don’t try to suggest to us that the cohesion fund is a gift or benefit system.”

Source: Financial Times

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 7:15 pm 
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EU lawmakers visit train linked to Hungary’s prime minster
By Pablo Gorondi
19 September 2017

ALCSUTDOBOZ, Hungary (AP) — European Parliament members who oversee the EU’s budget on Tuesday visited a three-station railroad that links three Hungarian villages and has close ties to the country’s prime minister.

Committee members led by chairwoman Inge Grassle are reviewing EU-funded projects in Hungary. Critics of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s critics say the railroad is a vanity project with no practical use, which has so far failed to reach the ridership figures cited for justifying the EU funds. Grassle and other lawmakers, including three from Hungary, rode the railroad’s full route of 5.7 kilometers (3.5 miles) between Alcsutdoboz, Orban’s birthplace, and neighboring Felcsut, where Orban grew up and has a house.

The project received 600 million forints ($2.3 million) from the EU. The soccer academy founded by Orban — located at Felcsut — financed the rest of the cost, about 857 million forints ($3.33 million).

Janos Lazar, Orban’s chief of staff, said the EU committee was committing “political discrimination” for specifically visiting the rail line linked to Orban. Viktor Szigetvari of the opposition Egyutt (Together) party said Orban was using EU money to build a “Disneyland” in his hometown, 48 kilometers (30 miles) west of Budapest, the capital. “This is an unnecessary investment,” Szigertvari said. “The only reason this was built here is the prime minister’s arrogance.”

Responding to similar criticism in 2015, Orban vowed to extend the railway to other nearby towns like Bicske and Lovasbereny. In July, the government revealed plans to spend a further 8.53 billion forints ($33.1 million) on developing similar rail lines. During the visit, the EU committee also reviewed several other projects done with EU funding, including Budapest’s fourth subway line and a countryside winery.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 8:51 pm 
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MEPs urged to probe Monsanto influence on research
5 October 2017

BRUSSELS (AFP) - A US firm pursuing a lawsuit against Monsanto is urging the European Parliament to examine its claims that the agro giant has hidden the dangers of its weedkiller, according to a letter obtained by AFP on Thursday.

The letter from the Los Angeles-based firm comes amid intensifying European Union debate over whether Brussels should renew in December the license for the weedkiller glyphosate for another 10 years. EU states have been deadlocked for more than a year over whether to declare that the chemical -- used in Monsanto's best-selling herbicide Roundup -- is safe.

The Baum-Hedlund-Aristei-Goldman firm sent a letter dated Wednesday with documents attached which it said bolstered its claims of "corporate malfeasance" by Monsanto. The letter charged that Monsanto has been "ghostwriting scientific literature designed to make glyphosate look safe, bullying scientists that publish anything negative about their billion-dollar product, and colluding with regulators to ensure 'positive' assessments." It urged the European Parliament to examine Monsanto's "relationship" with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which ruled earlier this year that glyphosate should not be classified as a carcinogen. The European Commission, the executive of the 28-nation EU, proposed after the EFSA ruling that the glyphosate license be renewed for 10 years.

The letter also urged the parliament to probe "Monsanto's sponsorship and implementation of ghostwritten scientific literature, specifically designed to influence European authorities." It asked the Parliament to examine other claims, including Monsanto's alleged "decisions to terminate studies showing much higher absorption rates of glyphosate than previously reported to the EU." The law firm represents gardeners, farmers, agricultural workers and their families in a lawsuit alleging that Roundup causes cancer.

The weedkiller deadlock in the EU has dragged on since June 2016, when its previous 15-year licence expired. EU states said then they were unable to make a decision, so the Commission gave a temporary 18-month renewal of glyphosate's licence while more scientific evidence was amassed. The European Parliament on Tuesday decided to deny access to Monsanto executives and lobbyists after the firm turned down an invitation to a hearing on October 11 over claims Monsanto influenced scientific research on glyphosate safety.

Monsanto maintains glyphosate "meets or exceeds all requirements for full renewal under European law and regulation" and charged the renewal procedure has in "many respects been hijacked by populism."

Source: AFP

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2017 4:00 am 
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Fayre's not fair for Eastern Europeans
13 October 2017

BRATISLAVA (AFP) - Grumbling that their western neighbours enjoy better quality fayre, from chocolate to ketchup, eastern Europeans stepped up their campaign Friday for better food standards.

"This state of affairs is unacceptable for citizens," said Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico at a Bratislava summit attended by Czech, Hungarian and Polish counterparts to lament the issue of dual food quality. Outraged at detecting quality issues in products ranging from Coca Cola and fish fingers to Nutella chocolate spread, several eastern EU states had already slammed "food apartheid", prompting Brussels last month to promise a crackdown.

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm and watchdog, has agreed to give member states one million euros ($1.1 million) to help improve tests for comparing products to detect quality differences. The Commission became involved after European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker declared that, by law, "there can be no second class consumers" in the EU and that "Slovaks do not deserve less fish in their fish fingers."

In February, Hungary's food safety authority had complained many food products sold with identical packaging and labeling were superior in neighbouring Austria. Nutella, for example, appeared "less creamy" than the Austrian version. "I will not have a peaceful conscience until unfair practices are completely eliminated from the internal market of the EU," Fico told Friday's Summit for Equal Quality of Products For All.

"The confidence of consumers in the European Union and its institutions is at stake, so it is our duty to come up with solutions," Slovak Agriculture Minister Gabriela Matecna said. Czech European consumer affairs commissioner, Vera Jourova, echoed those sentiments in highlighting the effect on consumer confidence in the EU single market.

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said dual food quality was something that "turns some Europeans into second class citizens." He said Prague wanted to amend an EU directive on unfair commercial practices, which currently "does not allow sufficient punishment for unfair practices."

Slovakia has completed two rounds of retail foodstuff testing. Out of 33 products bought in Slovakia and Austria, 14 displayed significant differences in their ingredients, according to the country's State Veterinary and Food Administration. "The results were even worse than in the first round," VFA head Jozef Bires said. For instance, some frozen pizzas of the same brand were found to contain less topping, more salt and less protein, Matecna said last week.

Similar issues arose testing washing powders. "The differences are quite high. According to the number of active substances, German washing powder is about 20 percent better than the Czech one," Jan Pivonka of the Prague University of Chemical Technology told journalists in July.

Source: AFP

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2017 3:05 pm 
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EU extends approval for weed killer claimed to harm health
By RAF CASERT
27 November 2017

BRUSSELS (AP) -- The European Union on Monday approved a five-year extension to the use of the weed killer glyphosate, in a move that failed to satisfy either environmentalists or farmers and pitted Germany against France.

After a drawn-out process, the EU backed the extension with a qualified majority and was able to beat a mid-December deadline when the current license expires - 18 member states voted in favor, 9 against while one abstained. Germany put its weight behind the extension, a move that divided the caretaker government in Berlin and could have repercussions on Chancellor Angela Merkel's negotiations to form a grand coalition between her conservative bloc and the center-left Socialist Democrats.

France remained opposed and there was anger with the outcome. "This is Black Monday for health," French European Parliament deputy Yannick Jadot told BFM TV. But President Emmanuel Macron said he tasked the government "to take the necessary measures so that the use of glyphosate is forbidden in France as soon as alternatives are found, and at the latest in three years."

Environmentalists had hoped on an immediate ban since they claim that the weed killer, used in chemical giant Monsanto's popular Roundup herbicide, is linked to cancer. The World Health Organization's cancer agency said in 2015 that the weed killer is "probably carcinogenic" to humans. "The decision taken today by a narrow qualified majority of member states has locked the EU into another five years of toxic agriculture," said Green member of the European Parliament Bart Staes. "This is a dark day for consumers, farmers and the environment."

Many farmers, who say the substance is safe, had wanted a 15-year extension. EU nations long failed to find a compromise amid conflicting health reports. Despite welcoming the limited extension, the president of the EU's Copa-Cogeca farmer association, Pekka Pesonen, insisted glyphosate "should have been re-authorized for 15 years after it was given a positive assessment by both the European Food Safety Authority and the European Chemicals Agency." Banning glyphosate outright would have shaken Europe's agriculture sector, since it is so widely used.

Germany voted for the extension over the objection of Social Democrat Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks, who said she had told Christian Democrat Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt on the phone Monday that she was against it. Schmidt, whose Christian Social Union is the sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, told the Rheinische Post that Germany had voted for the agreement because of conditions that will "strengthen the role of biodiversity and animal protection." Hendricks suggested the vote could make the possibility of building a new coalition government in Germany between her party and Merkel's conservative bloc more difficult. "Anyone who is interested in developing trust between two parties cannot behave that way," she said.

The approval also came after the Greens moved out of the picture as a possible coalition partner.

David Rising contributed from Berlin. Elaine Ganley contributed from Paris.
Source: AP

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