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Category: Europe

America First – Schulz doesn’t care

I am generally quite fond of /r/the_schulz, and how they are taking all the toxic memes and strategies of the American Nazi Movement and are turning them around to Make Europe Great Again, that is, putting some Emotions into the idea of the European Union.

And this here is seriously awesome.

European Parliament ends visa-free travel for Americans

The Independent reports:

The European Parliament has voted to end visa-free travel for Americans within the EU.

It comes after the US failed to agree visa-free travel for citizens of five EU countries – Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania – as part of a reciprocity agreement. US citizens can normally travel to all countries in the bloc without a visa.

The ban, if it comes, affects all Americas, not just Redneckistanis. Will it come? It depends:

Following the committee’s vote, the Commission must act to suspend the visa waiver for Americans, but the European Parliament or the Council of the European Union may object.

Being German, with a Hyphen

The BBC reports:

The Brexit debate in the UK is focusing on the rights of EU migrants in the country, among them about 300,000 Germans. Many people are worried about what will happen to them after Brexit. But how are the 100,000 Brits in Germany feeling?

and tells the story of Esme, a young british Expat living in Berlin (of course), applying for German Citizenship and getting it just now.

For Esme, and I suspect for a lot of the Brits who are now becoming German, what started out as a practical decision about visas and passports, is unexpectedly raising deeper questions about identity. Can you really be both German and British? And what does it mean to be German anyway?

Not so very long ago, saying to other Brits that you’re becoming German would almost inevitably lead to some tired gag about Nazis or towels on sun loungers. And although some British headlines might still use those cliches – and you can expect a few more if Brexit talks get nasty – today, modern Germany is seen more often as a bastion of tolerant values: international, democratic and open to immigrants.

Let’s keep it that way. In fact, let’s make or keep this a European thing.

On Normalcy: The rest times of truck drivers in Europe

DVZ Landverkehr reports (article in German):

LKW-Fahrer dürfen ihre wöchentliche Ruhezeit nicht im Fahrzeug verbringen. Zu diesem Ergebnis kommt Generalanwalt Evgeni Tanchev in seinen Schlussanträgen vom 2. Februar vor dem Europäischen Gerichtshof (EuGH). Hintergrund ist die Klage des Transportunternehmens Vaditrans gegen den Belgischen Staat.

(“Truck drivers must not spend their weekly downtime within the vehicle. That’s the conclusion drawn by general attorney Evgeni Tanchev in his final plea of Feb, 2nd before the ECJ. Background is a complaint of Vaditrans vs. Belgium”)

Most European countries require that the weekly downtime of truck drivers must not be spent in the vehicle. Vaditrans sued against this rule and the penalties for violation. European law allows daily downtimes to be spent in the cabin, but says nothing about weekly downtimes. Local rules in many states require that the drivers must not spent them on the vehicle.

The same proceedings are also reported in Eurotransport (article in German). The comments below the article rage against the ruling, with many commenters asking how this could possibly be implemented or how the ruling is unfair, cost intensive and generally wrong.

The definition of what is normal apparently can be distorted quite heavily – normal for most people obviously would be that drivers to park their vehicles next to a motel and sleep in proper rooms and beds, with proper meals and sanitary installations, every day, because that’s how jobs work in a civilization. Instead, people rage against requiring that drivers can and should be doing this at least on their weekends, claiming this to be impossible and abnormal.

Amnesty International: We have achieved surveillance society in Europe

The Amnesty Report “Dangerously Disproportionate: The Ever-Expanding National Security State in Europe” (PDF) goes through the states of Europes and their respective implementation of the surveillance state – emergency laws, principle of legality, privacy, freedom of expression, liberty, freedom of movement, and other categories are being investigated.

The summary states:

[B]y proposing, adopting and implementing wave after wave of counter-terrorism measures that have eroded the rule of law, enhanced executive powers, peeled away judicial controls, restricted freedom of expression and exposed everyone to government surveillance. Brick by brick, the edifice of rights protection that was so carefully constructed after the Second World War, is being dismantled.

This report aims to give a bird’s eye view of the national security landscape in Europe. It shows just how widespread and deep the “securitization” of Europe has become since 2014. The report reflects a world in which fear, alienation and prejudice are steadily chipping away at the cornerstones of the EU: fairness, equality and non-discrimination.

EU: End IP based geoblocking, use passport based geoblocking

The European Union has a press release, in which they say fee based online services will have to abandon IP-based access limitations:

The new rules will remove these restrictions for all new subscriptions and also for those purchased before the rules enter into force, thus enabling EU citizens to access this online content while temporarily abroad in another EU country on holiday, for studies or for business.

That will not remove the ability to establish licensing deals with units smaller than all of the EU, though. The IP-based geoblocks are instead being replaced with other blocks.

The agreed legislation will allow online content service providers to take “reasonable and proportionate measures” to verify the EU country of residence of the subscriber. A closed list of permitted verification methods includes checks on electronic identification, payment details, public tax information, postal address details or IP address checks. Service providers will be required to inform customers of the verification methods used and take appropriate security measures to protect their data.