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).
A nationwide vote is going to be held in Russia, perhaps on April 22, following Russian president Vladimir Putin’s proposal last month of important constitutional changes. In an unprecedented move, voters will be allowed to vote from home or, in select locations, from their workplace.
The reserve around Mont Blanc, which will be created by the end of 2020, will have rules restricting the number of visitors, especially during the summer. Other new environmental measures, announced by France, include the creation of the French Office of Biodiversity and stopping the government’s purchase of single-use plastics from July.
The ECHR has ruled that Spain did not violate the European convention on human rights six years ago when it deported two men who tried to climb the fence separating Morocco and Spain. Human rights groups now accuse the ECHR of “ignoring the reality” on the ground, and they worry that the ruling will set a dangerous precedent in the European Union.