The Conservative-Green coalition government in Austria has adopted a law stopping financial support for NGOs that provide legal counselling in asylum proceedings to refugees. Until now, a few NGOs received some funding from the government in order to ensure independent legal consultation, but starting from January 2021, a body within the Ministry of the Interior will take over the legal counselling in asylum proceedings. The new law has been criticised by different political parties and NGOs.
Following the adoption of a new law in Germany, kindergartens and schools can now only accept new children if they have been vaccinated against measles. If a child’s immunisation is not documented, schools will be forced to notify the local public health office, and if parents refuse to vaccinate their children, they will pay fines up to €2,500. A group of parents has already filed a complaint that the law violates their constitutional rights.
Russian human rights activists, including organisations like Memorial and the Civic Assistance Committee, have sent comments to the Ministry of Justice on the working draft of the new Code of Administrative Offences. Their suggestions include removing articles that punish gay propaganda among minors and prostitution, as well as clarifying the concept of drug propaganda and the criteria for deporting migrants.
This past Sunday, Luxembourg became the first country in the world to make public transport free. Previously, several cities, such as Tallinn, had adopted such measures. Residents and tourists will have equal access to free public transport in Luxembourg. This new policy is part of an effort to increase the use of public transport and reduce traffic jams in the country.
Greece suspends asylum applications for one month, in a move that experts characterise as a breach of European asylum law and international humanitarian law. The Greek government made this decision after Turkey opened its frontiers and said that it would no longer keep refugees from traveling towards Europe. As a result, thousands of migrants have been trying to enter Greece, prompting the Greek authorities to deploy military forces to strengthen their borders.
Experts say that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s proposed new immigration policy and the “sky-high” visa fees it implicates could dissuade foreign nurses, lab technicians, engineers and tech experts from choosing to settle in the United Kingdom. It would also have other negative repercussions, including greater burdens on employers who depend on EU staff.
For years, Eastern European countries such as Romania and Bulgaria have had to deal with a growing and serious garbage problem. In both countries, less than 10% of national waste is recycled, and waste imports from richer Western European countries continue to pile up or get incinerated, releasing toxic fumes and causing environmental pollution. This crisis contributes to Eastern Europeans’ sentiment of being second-class citizens in Europe.
In Spain, the left-wing government of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has promised a number of social reforms, including the so-called Rhodes Law. The latter seeks to improve the Spanish system of protection against child sexual abuse by facilitating the procedure to report abuse, focusing on prevention and education and changing the statute of limitations. The law has been named after British pianist and Madrid resident James Rhodes who has campaigned for such a law since 2018.
The European Commission has launched three new infringement proceedings against Germany for failing to correctly implement EU law. This brings the total of such proceedings against Germany to 76, making the country the fifth worst offender in the EU, behind Spain (93 proceedings), Greece (89), Italy (82) and Poland (78).