Voting began Thursday in what could be the most important European Parliament elections in a generation. All 28 European Union nations are choosing who should sit in the 751 seats of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, which approves the bloc’s budget and passes laws. The process is the second-largest democratic exercise in the world, behind the Indian general election. Member nations have their own separate elections to choose their national parliaments and local politicians, but the E.U. Parliament votes on the bloc’s $150 billion annual budget and passes legislation that affects some 500 million people.
The European Union assembly voted on Tuesday to scrap as of 2021 the decades-old practice of capitalizing on natural daylight by putting clocks forward by 60 minutes between late March and late October. Under the legislation approved by the 28-nation Parliament in Strasbourg, France, governments that want to be permanently on summertime would adjust their clocks for the final time on the last Sunday in March 2021.
Emmanuel Macron has called for a new European agency to fight against international cyber-attacks and the manipulation of election campaigns, as well as a ban on foreign powers funding European parties, as he set out plans to overhaul the EU in response to Britain’s vote to leave. Macron’s move comes weeks before the UK is scheduled to leave the EU, and months before European parliament elections in which nationalist parties are expected to increase their share of the vote. He said it was urgent to address the failings exposed by the Brexit vote.
The European Commission added Saudi Arabia, Panama and four U.S. territories to a blacklist of nations it considers a threat because of lax controls on terrorism financing and money laundering, the EU executive said on Wednesday. The move is part of a crackdown on money laundering after several scandals at EU banks, but it has been criticized by several EU countries, including Britain, that are worried about their economic relations with the listed states, notably Saudi Arabia. The United States has also disapproved.
Following President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, EU leaders agreed Wednesday to keep the deal going and maintain their reviving economic cooperation with Tehran. EU Council President Donald Tusk sharply criticized Trump at the meeting. French energy company Total warned they may exit Iran, casting doubt on continuing the nuclear deal.
Lufthansa canceled 800 flights in response to a walkout by public sector workers, affecting 90,000 passengers as the discontent among Europe’s workers spreads to Germany. The strike by the German labor union Ver.di is planned for Tuesday at Frankfurt airport. The union is fighting for a 6% raise for 2.3 million public service workers.
Hours after Germany decided to tighten its southern border, Austrian leaders announced on Tuesday plans for similar actions which will further threaten Europe’s system of free movement. Austria fears that Germany’s stricter border laws could lead to Austria becoming the final destination for more migrants. Austria said it will ‘take measures to protect its borders.’
The European Central Bank took a major step on Thursday toward ending a life support program for the eurozone economy. The Bank announced it will stop the form of money printing known as quantitative easing by December. The decision indicates the belief that the eurozone is now sufficiently robust after years of recession.
After 3 days of trans-Atlantic meetings, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has concluded that Donald Trump simply is not a reliable ally that her and her country have depended on in the past. Trump walking away from the Paris climate agreement upset many EU leaders.“The times in which we could rely fully on others they are somewhat over,” Angela Merkel spoke on Trump, “this is what I experienced in the last few days.”