Council of Europe (CoE) - European Human Rights Court - founding fathers (1949)

Council of Europe (CoE) - European Human Rights Court - founding fathers (1949)
French National Assembly head Edouard Herriot and British Foreign minister Ernest Bevin surrounded by Italian, Luxembourg and other delegates at the first meeting of Council of Europe's Consultative Assembly in Strasbourg, August 1949 (AFP Photo)

EU founding fathers signed 'blank' Treaty of Rome (1957)

EU founding fathers signed 'blank' Treaty of Rome (1957)
The Treaty of Rome was signed in the Palazzo dei Conservatori, one of the Renaissance palaces that line the Michelangelo-designed Capitoline Square in the Italian capital

Shuttered: EU ditches summit 'family photo'

Shuttered: EU ditches summit 'family photo'
EU leaders pose for a family photo during the European Summit at the EU headquarters in Brussels on June 28, 2016 (AFP Photo/JOHN THYS)

Merkel says fall of Wall proves 'dreams can come true'


“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013. They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."
"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)


"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Protestants, Catholics mark 500 years since Reformation

Yahoo – AFP, John MACDOUGALL, October 31, 2017

The service at the gothic Schlosskirche (All Saints' Church) in Wittenberg in eastern
Germany marks the end of year-long celebrations of the 500 anniversary of the
Reformation (AFP Photo/John MACDOUGALL)

Wittenberg (Germany) (AFP) - Catholic and Lutheran leaders Tuesday begged forgiveness for violence sparked by the Reformation, as worshippers celebrated 500 years since the religious revolution that created the Protestant church.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier arrived for a service at the church where German theologian Martin Luther is said to have first displayed his list of criticisms of the Catholic Church in 1517.

Legend has it Luther nailed his "95 theses" to the church door in a brazen challenge to the powerful institution, creating shock waves that eventually changed the face of Christianity.

The Reformation caused major upheaval in Europe, leading to wars, persecutions and exoduses, including the departure of the Pilgrims for what was later to become America.

The deadliest of Europe's religious conflicts was the Thirty Years' War which ended in 1648 and after which religion's role in European politics was reduced.

The Vatican and Lutheran World Federation released a rare joint statement on the anniversary Tuesday, saying they "begged forgiveness for our failures and for the ways in which Christians have wounded the Body of the Lord and offended each other during the five hundred years since the beginning of the Reformation until today".

"We recognise that while the past cannot be changed, its influence upon us today can be transformed to become a stimulus for growing communion, and a sign of hope for the world to overcome division and fragmentation," they said.

'Overcoming differences'

The service at the gothic Schlosskirche (All Saints' Church) in Wittenberg in eastern Germany marks the end of year-long celebrations by protestants in 700 German towns and cities.

A statue of German theologian Martin Luther stands in Wittenberg, eastern Germany, 
where he is said to have launched his challenge against the Catholic Church (AFP 
Photo/Hendrik Schmidt)

Ahead of the service, celebrants crowded the street leading to the 16th-century house of worship, which houses Luther's tomb.

Luther challenged Catholic clerics' practice of selling "indulgences" to repentant worshippers.

He said Christians could not buy or earn their way into heaven but only entered by the grace of God, and his challenge had widespread ramifications, including the establishment of the Church of England in Britain in 1534.

However, the theologian's name has also been associated with one of Germany's darkest periods: his attacks on Judaism in his writings were used as a reference for Nazi ideology.

Merkel, herself the daughter of a Protestant pastor, said it was essential that Luther's anti-Semitism never be scrubbed from his theological legacy.

"That is, for me, the comprehensive historical reckoning that we need," she said in her weekly video podcast on Saturday.

There are many theological differences between Protestants and Roman Catholics, including whether or not the Bible is the highest authority in matters of faith and whether the pope has full power over the Church.

In the joint statement, both parties committed to "overcome remaining differences between us", adding that it was "clear that what we have in common is far more than that which still divides us".

The precise number of Protestants is difficult to establish, given the number of Churches and offshoots, but the independent Pew Research Center estimates there were more than 800 million in 2011.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Dutch welcome EU deal on social dumping: ‘what a ride!’, says minister

DutchNews, October 24, 2017

Lodewijk Asscher. Photo: regering.nl

Outgoing social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher has welcomed a decision by EU ministers to stamp out social dumping on the European labour market, which has been a key part of his European efforts. 

The deal to reform the 1996 directive on posted workers means that companies will no longer be able to employ workers from other parts of the EU for lower wages for longer than 12 months. Posted workers will also be given the same holiday and other rights. 

Asscher took to Twitter to welcome the deal. ‘From ‘Code Oranje’ in 2013 when the commission branded me a xenophobe to this moment. What a ride,’ he said, referring to a controversial article he wrote about the impact of free moment on the labour markets four years ago. 

The issue of equal pay for equal work has divided the EU. Western member states back a change to stop their workers being undercut while Eastern countries want to maintain their competitive edge – due to their cheaper labour force. 

Monday’s agreement took almost 12 hours of talks and compromises and reaffirms the principle of ‘the same pay for the same work in the same place’. It will come into effect in 2021. 

However, the deal will not apply to the transport sector – one of the main areas of dispute – until a separate agreement has been reached.



Sunday, October 22, 2017

Journalist murder sparks push to heal politically-polarised Malta

Yahoo – AFP, Robin MILLARD, October 22, 2017

Flowers and candles were placed at a shrine outside Valletta's Palace of Justice
(AFP Photo/Matthew Mirabelli)

Valletta (AFP) - Citizens mourning the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia are calling for Malta's deeply-ingrained tribal politics to be put aside so the shaken island nation can begin healing its wounds.

The initial shock at Monday's car bomb assassination is now turning into demands for a united front -- with tens of thousands, party allegiance aside, expected at a national rally on Sunday demanding justice for the journalist.

Caruana Galizia's anti-corruption blog shone a light into the murky corners of Maltese politics, rattling the Labour government -- and, more recently, their sworn enemies in the Nationalist opposition.

On Saturday, the government offered an award of 1 million euros ($1.2 million) for information leading to the arrest of those responsible, saying it was "fully committed to solving the murder" and to "bringing those responsible to justice".

"As we are seeing protests develop, we become aware of what has been fought for in terms of maintaining democracy," said Geraldine Spiteri, one of many paying her respects to Caruana Galizia at a growing tribute of flowers, candles and messages in Malta's capital Valletta.

"People in Malta politicise every issue," the lawyer said, citing the "deep-rooted tribal mentality, which is very worrying".

"But certain things go beyond that. I am encouraging people to attend on Sunday to show the powers that be, on both sides, that people are concerned."

Maltese politics is split between Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's centre-left Labour Party, and the centre-right Nationalists.

Family party loyalty is strong. Come election time, families can expect personal visits to ensure turnout. With votes pretty much secure, partisan point-scoring can take priority over upholding the tiny Mediterranean islands' democratic institutions.

Caruana Galizia's grisly assassination has added further fuel to the politicians' tribalist bickering.

'Crocodile tears'

Carmelo Pace, a retired factory worker, was a self-confessed "avid" reader of Caruana Galizia's blog.

"I don't support the government, I support the opposition, but they are just pointing fingers at each other," the 74-year-old said, adding that politicians lamenting her loss were shedding "crocodile tears".

Caruana Galizia, 53, made searing allegations of financial corruption against Muscat's inner circle, largely based on the Panama Papers leak, forcing him to call a snap election in June -- which he won comfortably.

She had recently turned her spotlight on Adrian Delia, the new leader of the Nationalist Party, which hitherto had sought to capitalise on her allegations.

Kurt Sansone, online editor of the Malta Today newspaper, said that following her murder, the country's long-running political divisions now had to be addressed.

"The polarisation does not help because our institutions need to be beefed up. This is not a situation that started a few years ago," he told AFP.

"The hope is now that the police and the magistrate can get to the bottom of this. The country needs closure in order for us to move forward."

Newspapers in the European Union's smallest state are running a common front page on Sunday, under the slogan "the pen conquers fear".

Hours after they hit the newsstands, the community-organised national demonstration for justice will march through Valletta's historic streets.

Young generation unsure

"People need to go. It's important. If no-one goes, nothing will change," said Marie, 22, a teaching student.

"Something is definitely wrong in Malta. If people our age do nothing, that means the future will be the same. Let's try and think positive."

At the impromptu memorial to Caruana Galizia, sun-seeking cruise ship tourists photograph the flowers.

Older Maltese sit on the shady benches and debate the aftermath, while younger residents do likewise on their smartphones.

An air of fatalism has swept around online forums where young people have been discussing the murder, leaving the next generation unsureabout where Malta goes from here -- a duty, in a country of only 430,000 people, that will inevitably fall into their hands.

"Unfortunately, especially on social media, a lot of people are saying that this is the end of democracy and freedom of speech," said Robert Napier, president of the University of Malta students' council, who has been trying to bolster undergraduates' morale and resolve.

"No matter how far people are willing to go, nothing should silence our students, who are ultimately the leaders of tomorrow."


Related Articles:

Slain Malta journalist's sons dismiss reward, tell PM to quit


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Is Weinstein scandal a watershed for French women too?

Yahoo – AFP, Jessica LOPEZ and Clare BYRNE, October 21, 2017

Since the recent allegations against Harvey Weinstein, thousands of women
 have spoken out about their experiences of sexual harassment (AFP Photo/
Yann COATSALIOU)

Paris (AFP) - It took the fall of a US movie mogul to breach the culture of silence around sexual assault and harassment in France, but French feminist Caroline De Haas believes the country has turned a corner.

"There will be a before and an after #balancetonporc," she told AFP.

The #balancetonporc (expose your pig) hashtag is the French variant of the #metoo campaign launched in response to the plethora of abuse allegations that toppled movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

Over the past week, social media accounts in France -- like in the US -- have been awash with accounts of harassment or assault, with tens of thousands of women (and some men) adding their names to the list of alleged victims.

In a country long seen as soft on sexual harassment -- where the predatory style of ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was an open secret before he was brought down by a US assault case brought by a hotel maid -- feminists see the flood of testimonies as a turning point.

"Even if many women didn't share their stories they will certainly have been impacted," Haas said. "They (the accounts) give voice to a legitimate anger that has been contained for too long."

The French campaign was started by US-based French journalist, Sandra Muller, who shared a story on Twitter of a humiliating advance from a top French executive.

French feminist Caroline De Haas believes France has turned a corner in
standing up to sexual assault and harassment (AFP Photo/JOEL SAGET)

"You have big breasts. You are my type of woman. I will make you orgasm all night," she quoted him as saying in a tweet urging others to also out tormentors or aggressors.

Similar stories of harassment or abuse -- on the street, on public transport, at work -- flooded in immediately.

One woman described an "old man in his 70s who undressed me with his eyes in the metro".

Another noted that "the saddest thing, in fact, is that we all have similar anecdotes".

Christine Bard, a professor of feminist history at Angers University in western France, described the outpouring as unprecedented.

"All these women, from all over, saying the same thing, breaks the silence and the individual logic which makes you think you're the only one afraid," she said.

Over half of the French women surveyed for an Odoxa-Dentsu poll published Friday -- 53 percent -- said they had been victims of sexual assault or harassment.

Rape reporting 'explosion'

While the French film industry has so far avoided being caught up in the fallout from the Weinstein scandal, the host of a French TV talent show has been taken off air over allegations of misconduct involving a leading jury member.

M6 broadcaster said it had decided to pull France's answer to "America's Got Talent" after several women came forward with allegations of harassment or assault against Canadian impresario Gilbert Rozon.

The chauvinistic world of French politics has also been thrust back into the spotlight.

This week, the daughter of a former conservative minister accused an elderly former Socialist minister of having sexually assaulted her at the Paris Opera -- allegations he denied.

Calls to the French Collective against Rape hotline have "exploded", the group's
 head Emmanuelle Piet said (AFP Photo/ALAIN JOCARD)

An MP in President Emmanuel Macron's party is facing claims of harassment by his former parliamentary assistant, Franceinfo radio reported Friday, while a member of the greater Paris regional council has been excluded by his party after claims made by two female associates.

In a sign of the momentum behind the campaign, the government has announced plans for tougher sanctions against offenders.

Gender Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa said she aimed to introduce on-the-spot fines for the harassment of women on the street by early 2018 -- after a taskforce comes up with a definition of harassment.

"Today, all too often, people don't complain because they don't dare," Macron said on Sunday.

French associations for the victims of sexual assault have meanwhile reported a sharp rise in calls since #balancetonporc went viral. Emmanuelle Piet, head of the French Collective against Rape said the group's hotline had "exploded".

Feminists like De Haas hope that many of the women who shared their stories will dare to show their faces at a November 25 rally to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

The Odoxa poll showed most women -- and a small majority of men -- supporting the #balancetonporc hashtag.

But a sizeable minority -- 38 percent of women and 47 percent of men -- said they feared it would serve as a conduit for "unverified complaints that can lead to all sorts of abuses".

And as with other social media campaigns that mobilise millions online, the proof of its effectiveness will be in whether it succeeds in changing behaviour in the real world.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Rutte: send EU accession money for Turkey to human rights organisations

DutchNews, October 20, 2017

Photo: Maarten Hartman
Some EU leaders want to give less financial support to Turkey in preparation for possible EU membership because of concerns about human rights violations, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has said. 

Rutte told the media that this was the subject of the first day of meetings of the 28 EU leaders in Brussels. 

According to NOS broadcaster, he said on Thursday night that subsidies currently given to the Turkish government would be better off diverted to human rights organisations. 

The proposal to stop pre-accession funding comes from German chancellor Angela Merkel, who criticised the ‘absolutely unsatisfying human rights situation in Turkey’ but said she did not want to ‘break bridges’ or have a showdown with the NATO country. 

Rutte said that accession negotiations with Turkey are at a standstill. ‘They are comatose, and that will not change,’ he said. But he added that there is no consensus among EU leaders for a Dutch proposal to shut down funding to the country completely. 

Brexit is also on the agenda for the European leaders.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Slain Malta journalist's sons dismiss reward, tell PM to quit

Yahoo – AFP, Robin MILLARD, October 19, 2017

Matthew Caruana Galizia (C) and Peter Caruana Galizia (2ndL), son and husband
of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia and policemen walk past the wreckage of the car
bomb that killed Daphne Caruana Galizia (AFP Photo/STR)

Valletta (AFP) - The sons of a murdered Maltese journalist on Thursday dismissed Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's offer of a reward to help find her killers and called for him to quit.

Muscat has ruled out quitting and has vowed to bring those responsible for killing a reporter he has described as his "greatest adversary" to justice, with the help of FBI investigators.

On Wednesday Muscat told parliament that the government would put up a "substantial and unprecedented reward," for information leading to a conviction over Monday's car bomb killing of anti-corruption campaigner Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Her sons revealed that the government was putting up a million euros, but said they would not bow to pressure to endorse the idea.

"We are not interested in a criminal conviction only for the people in government who stood to gain from our mother's murder to turn around and say that justice has been served," they said.

"The Prime Minister asked for our endorsement. This is how he can get it: show political responsibility and resign."

Caruana Galizia had used her widely-read blog to highlight numerous cases of suspected corruption, including several scandals implicating Muscat's inner circle which had left her facing a string of legal suits.

Daphne Caruana Galizia had used her widely read blog to highlight numerous 
cases of suspected corruption (AFP Photo/Matthew Mirabelli)

Her sons, Matthew, Andrew and Paul, said Muscat should resign because he had worked to "cripple our mother financially and dehumanise her so brutally and effectively that she no longer felt safe walking down the street.

"And before resigning he can make his last act in government the replacement of the Police Commissioner and Attorney General with public servants who won’t be afraid to act on evidence against him and those he protects."

Muscat called and won an early election in June after the late journalist said she had evidence that his wife Michelle was the beneficiary of a secret Panama bank account.

Caruana Galizia, 53, alleged the account was used to stash kickbacks from Azerbaijan's ruling family linked to an Azeri bank gaining a licence to operate in Malta.

Muscat asked a magistrate to investigate the claims and has vowed to quit if any link is established between him and hidden offshore accounts.

The investigation, which the opposition has derided as rigged, is ongoing.

The journalist's killing has caused shock around the world and prompted much soul-searching in Malta over whether the country is becoming a cesspit of corruption against the backdrop of an economic boom which some see as having allowed both organised crime and a kickbacks culture to flourish.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Three killed, 360,000 without power as freak storm hits Ireland

Yahoo – AFP, Julien LAGACHE, October 17, 2017

Dark clouds gathered over the Irish Sea and Dublin as Ireland braced for the
passing of the storm Ophelia that left three dead and hundreds of thousands of
homes without power (AFP Photo/Ben STANSALL)

Dublin (AFP) - Ireland was hit by what officials called an "unprecedented storm" on Monday that left three people dead, more than 300,000 customers without power and shut down schools as well as government offices.

A police spokesman said one woman in her 50s was killed outside the village of Aglish, near the south coast, when a tree fell on her car. A female passenger in her 70s suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

One man died in an accident while he was clearing a fallen tree with a chainsaw near the town of Cahir, about 35 kilometres (22 miles) further inland.

And the third victim was a man killed on the roads by a falling tree north of Dundalk in the northeast, close to the border with Northern Ireland, police said in a statement.

Ophelia, the largest hurricane ever recorded so far east in the Atlantic Ocean and the furthest north since 1939, was downgraded to a storm before it hit the Irish coast but nonetheless wrought havoc.

"It will still however bring violent and destructive winds for a time," Met Eireann, the Irish National Meteorological Service, said on Monday.

Flooding was also expected "due to either heavy thundery downpours or storm surges in coastal areas," the service said after issuing a red alert for the whole country.

Winds reached 191 kilometres (119 miles) per hour at Fastnet Rock, Ireland's southernmost point, while the strongest winds recorded onshore were 156 kph (97 mph) at the entrance to Cork Harbour in the southwest.

Seventeen millimetres of rain fell at Valentia on the southwest coast, including nine millimetres (third of an inch) in one hour.

The Electricity Supply Board said 330,000 customers were without power, due to more than 3,200 individual faults on the network.

Map showing the path of Storm Ophelia (AFP Photo/Laurence CHU)

PM says stay indoors

"We can predict that it will take a number of days to restore power to all customers. Five to 10 per cent of this number will be without power for up to 10 days," it said.

Dublin Airport scrapped 180 flights while Cork Airport cancelled most flights in what it said was the worst storm seen in its 56-year history. Meanwhile several services to and from Shannon, the third-biggest airport, were also grounded.

Across the border in Northern Ireland, Belfast airport also saw extensive delays and cancellations.

Power cuts affected 18,000 customers in Northern Ireland, after power lines and poles came down due to strong winds and flying debris, supplier NIE Networks said.

"Stay indoors wherever you are until the storm has passed," Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said in comments to reporters.

"I don't want anyone to think that this is anything other than a national emergency and a red alert."

The Department of Education closed all schools, colleges and other education institutions on Monday due to the "unprecedented storm", with minister Richard Burton saying schools would remain closed on Tuesday.

Government offices were also shut.

Ireland's top football team Cork City were hit when their stadium roof collapsed, the day before they hoped to seal the league title at their Turners Cross ground.

The eye of the storm is forecast to track across Northern Ireland and then Scotland.

Though it will weaken as it goes, gusts are expected to reach 80 mph (129 kph) in the UK.

Huge waves strike the harbour wall and lighthouse at Porthcawl, south Wales, on 
October 16, 2017 as Storm Ophelia hits the UK and Ireland. (AFP Photo/Geoff CADDICK)

Britain's Met Office issued amber severe weather warnings for Northern Ireland, Wales, and southern Scotland, saying power cuts, transport disruption, flying debris and large waves were likely.

"This leads to the potential for injuries and danger to life," the national weather service said.

The fringes of the storm turned the hitherto sunny afternoon skies over London a murky shade of brown-orange, due to the southerly warm winds bringing dust from the Sahara Desert.

Ophelia came 30 years to the day after the Great Storm, which ravaged southern England in the early hours of October 16, 1987, leaving 18 people dead.

Hurricane season

Ophelia is the 15th named storm of the 2017 Atlantic season, which is expected to last until the end of November.

Three major hurricanes -- Harvey, Irma and Maria -- caused catastrophic damage in the Caribbean and the US Gulf Coast.

Ophelia was classed Category 3 on Saturday as it passed near Portugal's Azores islands, which means it packed winds of at least 178 kilometres per hour.

Though seven of the nine islands in the Azores were on high alert, the storm did not cause major damage.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Hundreds march through Kosovo's capital for the strongly conservative country's first gay pride parade

Dutch finance minister to stay on as Eurogroup chairman

DutchNews, October 10, 2017

Finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem on the annual spending review. Photo:
Finance ministry still 

Dutch caretaker finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem is to stay on as chairman of the influential Eurogroup of finance ministers until January next year, even though he will no longer be a minister by then. 

Members of the group decided unanimously on Monday that Dijsselbloem can remain in the job until the second of his two terms in office expires at the beginning of 2018. His replacement will be chosen by the Council of Ministers on December 4. 

Dijsselbloem, a Labour minister, has won praise for the way he has carried out the job, particularly in his support for an EU banking union, according to the NRC. 

He has also faced calls for his resignation after last year telling a German newspaper that there is a need for budgetary discipline among the member states in the Eurozone. ‘I cannot spend all my money on drink and women and then ask for help,’ he said. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

EU orders Amazon to pay Luxembourg tax bill

France24 –AFP, by Alex PIGMAN

AFP/File / by Alex PIGMAN | Europe's competition chief Margrethe Vestager accused
tiny Luxembourg of an illegal deal with internet shopping giant Amazon to pay less tax
than other businesses

BRUSSELS (AFP) - The EU turned the screw on US tech giants Wednesday, ordering Amazon to repay Luxembourg 250 million euros in back taxes and referring Ireland to the top EU court for failing to collect billions from Apple.

Europe's competition chief Margrethe Vestager accused tiny Luxembourg of an illegal deal with internet shopping giant Amazon to pay less tax than other businesses.

The two cases are part of a wider offensive by the EU on Silicon Valley behemoths as Europe seeks ways to regulate them more tightly on issues ranging from privacy to taxation.

De expositie "Women House" door 40 vrouwelijke kunstenaars in de Monnaie de Paris, uitgebeeld door kunstenares KASHINK
"Luxembourg gave illegal tax benefits to Amazon. As a result, almost three quarters of Amazon's profits were not taxed," Vestager said in a statement.

The tax demand comes a year after the hard-charging Vestager ordered tech icon Apple to repay 13 billion euros ($14.5 billion) in back-taxes to Ireland in a decision that shocked the world.

In a sign that it was not letting up, the EU on Wednesday referred Ireland to the EU's highest court for failing to collect the bill.

"The European Commission has decided to refer Ireland to the European Court of Justice for failing to recover from Apple illegal state aid," the EU's anti-trust regulator said in a statement.

For its part, Amazon rejected the charges and said it would "study the commission's ruling and consider our legal options".

"We believe that Amazon did not receive any special treatment from Luxembourg and that we paid tax in full accordance with both Luxembourg and international tax law," it said in a statement.

Silicon Valley targeted

Vestager's announcement comes days after the EU said at a special digital summit that it was drawing up a special tax targeting Google and Facebook, a policy championed by French President Emmanuel Macron.

Launched three years ago, the European Commission's probe into Amazon's deals with Luxembourg was part of several investigations into sweetheart tax arrangements between major companies and several EU countries.

The commission -- the EU's powerful executive arm responsible for policing its competition rules -- opened the probe in 2014 in the belief that Luxembourg's tax favours to Amazon constituted "state aid" that distorts competition.

Many came in the wake of the "Luxleaks" scandal which revealed details of tax breaks given by the tiny but wealthy duchy of Luxembourg to dozens of major US firms.

The revelations came as a particular embarrassment for European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who was prime minister of Luxembourg at the time when the tax deals were made.

In similar cases, Vestager decided against the tax deals for coffee-shop chain Starbucks by the Netherlands and Italian automaker Fiat by Luxembourg -- both companies were ordered to pay roughly 30 million euros.

The Amazon case hinges on the belief that a tax deal between Luxembourg and Amazon in 2003 constituted illegal state aid, giving the company an unfair advantage over competitors.

Once found at fault, a country must recover the amount granted in illegal state aid, potentially a huge amount of money given that some of the tax deals date back many years.

Amazon has sharply rejected the allegations, arguing that it employs 1,500 people in Luxembourg and that its business remains unprofitable in Europe.

Vestager's biggest decision was by far against Apple in Ireland, which shocked Washington. The iPhone maker, as well as Ireland, have appealed the decision.