This Week in Europe: Pride, lobsters, missiles and more

, by Pascal Letendre-Hanns, Radu Dumitrescu

All the versions of this article: [Deutsch] [English]

This Week in Europe: Pride, lobsters, missiles and more
Image by Samuel Mork Bednarz.

Members of the TNF team recount big events from Europe from the past week, and point attention to news that may have passed notice. What did we miss? Comment on our Facebook page at !

Spanish left open up coalition talks ahead of investiture vote

After tense exchanges following the Spanish national elections at the end of April, PSOE and Podemos appear to be on the path to a formal coalition agreement. Up to now, PSOE had refused to entertain a coalition with Podemos but then on Friday changed their stance slightly to say that they would engage in talks if Podemos’ leader, Pablo Iglesias, renounced any claim to a ministerial post. Later that day Iglesias publicly agreed to this condition with talks between the two parties having picked up over this weekend. With a combined 165 votes, they would still fall short of the absolute majority required to win the first investiture vote on 23rd July but will be very likely to win the second vote two days later, where only a simple majority is required. Spain would then be led by a minority government bringing together the centre- and far-left, similar to the current government in Portugal.

EU leaders condemn Trump’s racist remarks towards Congresswomen

European politicians, including Angela Merkel, Theresa May and Donald Tusk, have come out against Trump’s most recent racist statements. The US President has launched a series of racist attacks on four Democratic Congresswomen, all of whom are women of colour, stating that they should go back to their own countries in spite of the fact that all are US citizens and three were born in the United States. Trump has also been widely condemned for his failure to intervene when crowds at a rally started chanting ‘send her back’. Far from coming back on his statements, Trump has doubled down, most recently retweeting a British far-right activist, Katie Hopkins, who praised the ‘send her back’ chant. Following the Tree of Life synagogue mass shooting, Hopkins had suggested that the attack was justified by the Chief Rabbi’s support for Muslim refugees.

Polish city celebrates first Pride parade amid far-right intimidation

In the city of Bialystok, 1000 people attended the first Pride parade in defence of LGBT rights. Unlike Pride parades in more progressive cities, this was less a celebration and more of a demand for equal rights in a deeply conservative country. The marchers were harassed and attacked by far-right activists, requiring the protection of riot police - 20 people were estimated to have been arrested as a result of the violence. Poland has seen a record number of Pride marches this year, which organisers explain as a backlash to the increasing use of anti-LGBT rhetoric by the ruling party, the right-wing populist Law and Justice.

Italian police seizes missiles from far-right

This week, Italian police seized a number of combat weapons from far-right extremist groups, including an air-to-air missile originating from Quatar, which was they intended to sale. The counterterrorism force in Turin and other nother Italian cities arrested three men in the raids and found assault rifles, a submachine gun, other firearms and neo-Nazi paraphernalia. One of the three men, Fabio Del Bergiolo, is a former customs officer who ran for the Italian Senate for the neofascist Forza Nuova in 2001 and lost. Another, Alessandro Monti, is a Swiss national.

EU launches antitrust probe into Amazon

This week, EU commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, launched a formal probe into the dual role of Amazon - as a marketplace and as a seller of products. The probe launches a new chapter of antitrust enforcement against tech giants in Europe. Put simply, the investigation is looking into whether or not Amazon is using data gather from retailers on its platform in order to better promote its own products, thus breaking the rules of free competition. Amazon declared that it will cooperate fully with the Commission.

Also this week, the European Commission announced that it fined chipmaker Qualcomm 242 million euro for its attempt to force a smaller competitor, Icera, out of the market.

vdL no longer wants a “United States of Europe”

In an interview published on Thursday, Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen said she no longer advocates for the Union to become a federal state, despite previous statements. She said that her dream has become “more mature and more realistic.” Advanced by the Council and confirmed as the next Commission president by a narrow majority of MEPs (including MEPs from Poland’s euroskeptic PiS party), vdL thus rowed back from the federalist dream and argued for more dialogue with countries such as Italy and Poland.

French environment minister resigns due to a lobster

On Tuesday, the French environment minister, Francois de Rugy, announced his resignation after allegations that he spent taxpayer money on lavish dinners and home renovations. In a Facebook post, the outgoing minister accused the media of attacking him and thus keeping him from doing his job. De Rugy was planning to boost climate targets, tax flight tickets in order to reduce emissions, reduce waste and decrease France’s reliance on nuclear energy. Last week, however, media outlet Mediapart reported that he hosted opulent dinners with lobsters and wine bottles worth half a thousand euro while he was president of the French parliament between 2017 and 2018.

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