Italy EU – Plastica Italia Fri, 11 Jun 2021 22:34:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Italy EU – Plastica Italia 32 32 Bold single-use plastic ban pushes Europe’s plastic purge into high gear Fri, 11 Jun 2021 22:10:19 +0000

Beachgoers in Europe have grown accustomed to the overwhelming sight of plastic waste strewn along the shores. Indeed, 85 percent of the continent’s saltwater beaches and seas exceed pollution standards for marine litter. The Mediterranean Sea is the most polluted of all, with researchers collecting an average of 274 plastic waste per 100 meters of coastline. And beneath the waves, microplastics have turned coastal waters into toxic “plastic soups”.

In a total effort to clean up Europe’s beaches – a plank in the European Union’s pioneering efforts to tackle the nearly 28 million tonnes of plastic waste it generates each year – a ban goes into effect on 3 July which stops the sale on the EU markets of the 10 plastic products that most often end up on the coasts of the continent. These include, among others, plastic bottle caps, cutlery, straws and plates, as well as food and beverage containers made of polystyrene.

The ban is the most visible sign of Europe’s efforts to reduce plastic pollution by creating the world’s first circular plastic regime. By the end of this decade, this will lead to a ban on disposable plastics, the creation of a comprehensive reuse system for all other plastics, and the creation of a large and potentially lucrative European market for recycled plastics. .

A range of EU measures are now directing investment and innovation towards circular solutions that experts and EU officials say will define Europe’s low-carbon economy and improve its performance. global competitiveness. A circular economy is an economy in which products and materials are used throughout their life cycle, from design and manufacturing to reuse or recycling. Unlike the current linear system, products do not end up in the trash, but rather are reintroduced into the production process.

As part of the EU plastics strategy, presented in 2018, the waste guidelines will review the way plastic products are designed, used and recycled. All plastic packaging on the EU market must be recyclable by 2030 and the use of microplastics must be limited.

The measures are the toughest in the world and have already pushed plastic packaging recycling rates in the EU to an all-time high of 41.5%, three times that of the United States. The EU has set a target to recycle 50% of plastic packaging by 2025, a target that now seems within reach. And by 2025, a separate collection target of 77% will be in place for plastic bottles, rising to 90% by 2029.

This comprehensive regime will be based on the widespread adoption of extended producer responsibility regimes, which means that if a company introduces packaging or packaged products into a country’s market, that company remains responsible for the full cost of collection, transport, recycling or incineration of its products. In effect, the polluter pays.

And from this year, EU companies will no longer be able to dump plastic waste in developing countries such as Malaysia, Vietnam, India and Indonesia. By exporting plastic waste, the EU had essentially got rid of the scourge – around 1.7 million US tons per year – a significant amount of which was burned in the open, dumped in landfills or simply thrown into the sea. Today, Europe is forced to tackle the full burden of waste itself.

“The EU takes the creation of a circular economy very seriously, and plastics are at the center of it,” said Henning Wilts, director of circular economy at the German Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and energy.

Elsewhere in the world, governments and the private sector are responding to public anger over plastic pollution, but with much less effect than in Europe. Globally, only 14 to 18 percent of plastics are recycled (less than half of the European average) and less than 10 percent is recycled in the United States. circular, largely greenwashing.

“Many types of commonly used plastic packaging are not recyclable and are landfilled, incinerated or exported without recycling verification,” according to a Greenpeace report.

The United States, which generates the largest amount of plastic waste in the world, is inundated with waste now that China – the largest plastic maker – no longer accepts imported waste; many American cities end up throwing plastic waste in landfills or burning it. Congress instructed the National Academies of Sciences to conduct a comprehensive review of the United States’ contribution to plastic waste, which is expected to be released later this year.

Europe’s battle against plastic waste will help the EU meet its ambitious climate target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55% from 1990 levels by 2030. The EU believes that the Lower production of petroleum-based plastics could reduce 3.4 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent carbon footprint and anticipate environmental damage that would reach 22 billion euros by 2030.

“The 10-item ban is important. It’s not greenwashing, ”said Clara Löw, analyst at the Öko-Institute, a German think tank. “There are many other measures under the European Green Deal to curb plastics and make circularity the fundamental principle of the plastics economy in Europe. Even most Europeans are not aware of everything that is going on right now. “

Critics note, however, that the EU’s blatant 10-item ban covers only one percent of plastic production in Europe. They also point out that the total amount of plastic waste production in Europe has not decreased, which the new measures aim to reverse.

Zero Waste Europe says the production of plastic waste in Europe will only decrease when sanctions such as the 10-item ban and other measures take full effect.

Carmine Trecroci, economist and recycling expert at the University of Brescia in Italy, said that external factors like the price of oil have a major impact; as long as oil is cheap, which has been the case in recent years, so is plastic production, making it all the more difficult to control. The plastics sector in the EU is a big business, employing 1.5 million people and generating 350 billion euros in 2019. Trecroci said the powerful Italian plastics lobby has fought hard to block the ban of the 10 articles, then to slow it down and dilute it. Ultimately, however, the EU approved the ban.

While EU countries still produce large amounts of plastic, the amount of post-consumer plastic waste sent for recycling has climbed 92% since 2006, according to PlasticsEurope, a European association of plastics manufacturers. Meanwhile, landfill – by far the dirtiest waste treatment option – has fallen by 54%.

Since January 1, plastic producers in the EU have to pay a tax of 800 euros per tonne of non-recycled plastic packaging waste. Pressure from Brussels has also prompted voluntary action in the private sector: Coca-Cola Europe, for example, is on track to make 50 percent of its plastic bottles and cans from recycled content.

According to the EU, only 5% of the value of plastic packaging currently remains in the economy after first use. This, he estimates, costs the European economy between 70 and 105 billion euros per year.

“A closed loop,” Löw said, “is when every material, every product and its components will be used as long as possible, repaired or refurbished if broken, [and] recycled several times as secondary raw material without loss of material quality.

Wilts of the Wuppertal Institute added: “Europe is a continent with few raw materials, like oil and metals, so a recycling industry that bypasses the need for virgin raw materials is an industrial strategy as much as an environmental program. . He and others say recycling and recovery facilities will propel recycling in Europe as plastic waste becomes more valuable, the incineration of waste into energy is properly taxed, and more products are standardized for recyclability. . “There is going to be a doubling of sorting and recycling facilities over the next five years,” Wilts said.

The new European plastics economy dates back to the mid-1990s, when the principle of extended producer responsibility was enshrined in European law. According to an article from Zero Waste Europe, Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is “crucial to incentivize product redesign with circularity in mind … Ensuring that producers bear 100% of cleanup costs will encourage manufacturer to work with municipalities to ensure high waste collection. their products.”

Trecroci notes that large-scale EPR is already a reality in Northern and Central Europe. In Germany, companies pay fees totaling 1.5 billion euros per year which finance the transport, sorting and recycling of their final waste. “In southern Europe we are at an earlier stage, but EPR will apply here too, in full, in a few years,” said Trecroci.

In addition, in 2019 the EU adopted a directive that by 2025 all EU countries will incorporate 25% recycled plastic in clear plastic bottles and 30% in all plastic beverage bottles. by 2030. This mandatory minimum – already in force in Germany, Denmark and Norway – adds value to plastic waste, because plastic producers need it and will pay for it.

“This creates a demand for high quality recycling materials,” Wilts said. Soon the same principle – minimum amounts of recycled content – will apply to the automotive and construction sectors, he said.

The vast private sector network needed to create this new circular economy is only gaining momentum, according to Wilts. “Ultimately, the recycling industry will produce the basic materials for industrial manufacturing,” he said. “But we are not there yet.”

This article is reprinted with permission from Yale Environment 360. It was first published on June 8, 2021. Find the original story here.

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Participating in her last G7, Merkel has had enough of the American leadership Fri, 11 Jun 2021 05:04:09 +0000

As Angela Merkel prepares for her final Group of Seven meeting and Joe Biden for his first as president, their differences represent more than just a summit experience.

Merkel is part of a strong European G7 contingent on the southwest coast of England emerging from the pandemic exceptionally united and determined to carve out a larger global role on par with her American ally.

For the French Chancellor Emmanuel Macron and the Italian Mario Draghi, as well as for the leaders of the European Union who take their places around the table, the relief is real at the prospect of dealing with Biden rather than Donald Trump. Yet their high hopes for the summit do not diminish the growing sense that they must collectively step out of the shadows and US politics of influence in Washington rather than obediently accept the American line.

An impending deal to put aside pending trade disputes between the EU and the US shows mutual desire to work together. However, there is annoyance in Berlin, Paris and Brussels at Biden’s call to arms to save the world from COVID-19, after the United States reserved their vaccines for Americans while Europe has took up national defense for exporting gunfire to the world – some 300 million since January – including to other members of the G7, Canada and Japan.

For Europe, the pandemic illustrates the need to get its message across to Washington. It’s research of greater influence that appears in tune with public opinion, with polls this week suggesting transatlantic divisions persist after Trump. The G7 plans to promise 1 billion new doses over the next year, according to a draft press release. The Biden administration plans to purchase 500 million Pfizer-BioNTech doses to share.

The G7 will show the world “that the alliance and its leaders are back after Trump and the pandemic to tackle global issues,” said Peter Beyer, the German government’s transatlantic coordinator. Yet, he said, “it is not just about returning to the old Western alliance, but rather forging a new West.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses the media in Berlin on June 2. | POOL / VIA AFP-JIJI

As the US president flies off to the G7, a NATO summit, EU-US talks, then a meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, Europe feels like it has a chance to do so. advance his cause. Brussels in particular is in a emboldened mood, according to two EU officials, who cited the results of the bloc’s vaccination program, the strong recovery in the eurozone economy and the imminent arrival of a pandemic pulse. massive EU.

More than just trust, European leaders have some certainty that they have been right on issues ranging from the climate to Iran and have the right to have their point of view heard. Four years of Trump created a lot of mistrust, but also a belief that Europe should be less submissive to America, said a person working on the EU-US summit.

“The European Union can be at the forefront when it comes to ideas for the world,” said European Council President Charles Michel, who will attend the G7, in an interview this week with a little media group. Citing topics from the summit ranging from climate action to taxation and vaccine certificates, he said the EU has more influence than you think, and “sometimes in Europe we forget that” .

This differs from the Biden administration’s emphasis on a post-Trump return to American leadership.

“Whether it’s ending the Covid-19 pandemic everywhere, responding to the demands of an accelerating climate crisis, or dealing with the nefarious activities of the Chinese and Russian governments, the United States must lead the world from a position of strength, ”Biden said. in an op-ed published Sunday in the Washington Post.

European officials say they are disappointed that Biden’s policies carry certain characteristics of Trump’s “America First” stance. The EU has raised concerns with the United States over Biden’s surprise withdrawal from Afghanistan, where several member states, including Germany, have troops, according to people familiar with the talks. One official said the new administration appears to be banking on goodwill just because Biden is not Trump.

“We expected more change with Biden,” said Françoise Nicolas, director of the Center for Asian Studies at the French Institute for International Relations in Paris.

Stimulating Europe means realizing that there is a small window for its biggest hitters to advance their common interests. Macron faces a murderous election campaign ahead of next year’s presidential election, while Draghi, the former European Central Bank chief named Italy’s technocratic leader, is not expected to serve beyond 2023.

Most urgent of all, Merkel is not running in Germany’s September election, which means it’s her G7 swan song. She is not about to take a back seat, however, and will push to send a clear signal to Minsk and Moscow about recent events in Belarus and Russia’s involvement, according to a senior German government official with knowledge of her. thought.

US President Joe Biden is preparing to address US Air Force personnel and their families stationed at Royal Air Force Mildenhall in England on Wednesday.  |  AFP-JIJI
US President Joe Biden is preparing to address US Air Force personnel and their families stationed at Royal Air Force Mildenhall in England on Wednesday. | AFP-JIJI

Disputes persist with the United States over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a point of contention picked up by Trump and maintained under Biden. A delegation from Berlin met with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in Washington last week, but little progress was made. Merkel fundamentally sees this as a problem for Germany and Europe only, according to another German official.

Trump has made no secret of his contempt for the EU, NATO and for Merkel personally. Seen from Berlin, although the Trump years are over, the lesson remains that Europe will have to fend for itself, Germany’s chief official said. It is on this basis that Merkel will now deal with Biden.

The G7 reminds Merkel of the need for joint action to face the world’s most intractable problems: at its first summit in 2006 in St. Petersburg, leaders discussed Israel’s conflict with Gaza, the program Iran nuclear power and climate change, topics that could just as easily be on the agenda this weekend.

Biden will be his fourth US president since then; during this time she worked with two Canadian prime ministers, three Japanese prime ministers, four French presidents, five British leaders and ten Italian leaders. Putin has always been a constant – Russian-speaking Merkel regularly makes calls with the president to harass him over Ukraine – and Biden will surely harness his knowledge ahead of his meeting with Putin in Geneva. The other is that she was the only female leader in 2006; she will be at this G7 again.

Certainly there is enthusiasm for the Cornwall summit. Germany, France and Italy all want to strengthen cooperation with Washington. The US has signaled its support for the EU in its Brexit standoff with the UK, while Brussels is set to back US pressure for a new investigation into the origins of COVID-19.

Despite all the differences between the leaders of the G7, the stars can align for common action, which is after all the strong point of Europe.

“They all want to leave their mark and get things done,” said Nicolas de Ifri.

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Public confidence in EU decreases due to pandemic handling, survey finds | Voice of America Thu, 10 Jun 2021 12:02:40 +0000

Public confidence in the European Union has plummeted due in large part to the bloc’s handling of the pandemic and its difficulties in sourcing coronavirus vaccines, according to an investigation for the European Council on Foreign Relations of several Member States. The survey also reveals that dismay over the EU is spreading from peripheral countries in the south and east to France and Germany.

And doubts about the EU extend beyond just Eurosceptic voters, warn think tank researchers.

Europeans still believe in the importance of multilateral cooperation between their states and a majority want the EU to become a more important global player, but other failures and incidents could jeopardize the European project because the support is fragile, they say.

FILE – German Chancellor Angela Merkel greets French President Emmanuel Macron at the end of a press conference following the Franco-German Security Council video talks in Berlin, Germany, February 5, 2021.

“The fact that two of the largest and most influential states in the EU – France and Germany – are the least convinced of the need for European cooperation underlines the urgency with which the EU must improve its game “, according to Susi Dennison, project manager at ECFR. and Jana Puglierin.

“Both countries have important national elections coming up next year, which could present a challenge for EU leaders. The data from our polls indicate that the EU has exhausted its second chances, ”they add. The election results should be a wake-up call for Brussels.

ECFR is a pan-European policy research institution headquartered in Berlin, but has offices across the continent. Its board of directors includes former foreign ministers, former European and national lawmakers as well as former European commissioners and former NATO secretaries general.

In half of the states surveyed, most respondents said they had little trust in the EU or said their trust had declined, with majorities in France (62%), Italy (57%), Germany (55%), Spain (52%) and Austria (51%) said the EU project was “broken”.

“The growing distrust of the European project extends beyond Eurosceptic voters and has seeped into the mainstream. As our data show, belief in the need for European cooperation is lowest among citizens of the Franco-German engine, ”Dennison said in a statement.

Not that Europeans are satisfied with the status of politics in their own states with 80% of Italians and Spaniards, 66% of French, 60% of Portuguese, 55% of Poles and 54% of Hungarians stating that their own political systems internals are “broken” too.

But it is sentiments about the EU that are likely to attract the most media attention for the inquiry, which was released on Wednesday. According to Dennison, the main lesson to be learned from the poll is: “The EU urgently needs to improve its game if it is to survive.” She added that EU leaders have had the opportunity at upcoming G-7, NATO and EU-US summits to “restart”, but must avoid “too much scope institutional or excessive promises ”.

Termination of solidarity

European solidarity broke at various points in the pandemic with feuds between member states and Brussels over vaccine purchase and distribution as well as travel and sharing restrictions at the onset of the health crisis public protective medical equipment and rare ventilators.

FILE PHOTO: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen addresses a press conference after a visit to the Pfizer vaccine factory in Puurs
FILE – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen addresses a press conference after a visit to the Pfizer vaccine factory in Puurs, Belgium, April 23, 2021.

Much of the frustration among member states has been directed at European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who was the driving force in persuading member states to sign a vaccine procurement and distribution program run by the Brussels authorities.

She and the EC commissioners argued that a bloc-wide approach would reduce the risk of vaccine rivalry between member states as they scramble to place orders and raise awareness of EU forces, which in turn would help garner more public support for greater political integration. But it didn’t turn out that way and Europe fell behind Britain and the United States as a third wave of the pandemic hit the continent earlier this year.

“With citizens particularly disappointed with the EU’s struggling COVID vaccine program, [European] The Commission cannot afford to make the same mistakes as it orchestrates the bloc’s economic recovery, ”Dennison said.

“If the EU is to overcome the next stage of the pandemic, and any other challenge to its legitimacy, it is imperative that it listens to its citizens,” added Puglierin. More than 17,000 Europeans were interviewed online for the survey in April in Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

A majority of respondents in all but one of the surveyed countries still agreed that EU membership was “a good thing” for their country. The exception was France, where the largest number of respondents said membership was “neither good nor bad”. This, analysts said, could sound the alarm bells at the Elysee Palace.

Children march past election campaign posters of French centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, in Osses, southwest France, May 5, 2017. France votes Sunday in second round of the presidential election ...
FILE – Children march past election campaign posters of French centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, in Osses, southwestern France, May 5, 2017.

French President Emmanuel Macron faces a tough campaign to try to be re-elected next year and populist nationalist leader Marine Len Pen has won in opinion polls.

The survey also suggests that citizens of the European Union have adjusted their attitude towards Britain since Brexit, identifying the country no longer as an ally but as a “necessary partner” and sometimes a rival. A similar sentiment seems to prevail towards the post-Trump United States and is seen as a country to be “strategically co-operated” with rather than an ally. One in four Germans and one in five French and Spanish consider the United States to be a rival or an adversary.

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Vatican warned investigations were understaffed and experienced Wed, 09 Jun 2021 16:43:00 +0000

European assessors warn that the Vatican’s efforts to investigate and prosecute financial crimes suffer from understaffing and inexperience.

ROME, Italy – European assessors warned on Wednesday that the Vatican’s efforts to investigate and prosecute financial crimes suffered from understaffing and inexperience, as well as the mistaken belief that its own cardinals and bishops were in the making. safe from any criminal behavior.

The Council of Europe’s Moneyval Commission has published a long report on the Holy See’s compliance with international standards in the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Overall, the evaluators gave the Holy See good marks, believing that it complied with most standards, had taken steps to improve its laws and had achieved effective levels of international cooperation.

But evaluators complained that Vatican prosecutors had only succeeded in bringing to justice a handful of money laundering cases in the past decade. They said the long time it takes to achieve both a charge and a conviction shows only “modest” functioning of the justice system, and warned that the sentences handed down to date were so “minimal” that they had no deterrent value.

And most critically, the report strongly criticized the Holy See for ignoring the possibility that its own employees could abuse their offices and the Vatican’s financial system for their own personal gain. They said their assessment process could not be completed until the Vatican undertook a “comprehensive assessment” of insider risk and strengthened its own oversight of staff to detect possible crimes.

The Holy See said it welcomes the report, “renews its commitment to continue working for full compliance” and will carefully consider Moneyval’s recommendations.

The head of the Vatican’s financial intelligence authority, Carmelo Barbagallo, noted that few other countries are receiving such positive ratings and said he considers the lack of any “low efficiency” to be a success.

The report was released as part of a two-year criminal investigation into the Vatican Secretary of State’s 350 million euros ($ 425 million) investment in a London real estate deal that involved half – a dozen Vatican employees and a handful of outside Italian brokers who are accused of stealing tens of millions of euros in fees from the Holy See.

No indictment has been issued, although the report says a trial is expected to begin this summer. The investigation found that senior officials in the Secretary of State – as well as Pope Francis – were aware of the deal and approved it, but to date no investigation is underway.

Moneyval’s assessment ended before Francis took action to address one of the key shortcomings noted by the report: that cardinals and bishops were given virtual immunity from prosecution by the court. of the Vatican.

On April 30, Francis removed procedural hurdles and made it clear that prosecutors only needed his consent to conduct investigations against cardinals and bishops.

The Vatican submitted to the Moneyval valuation process after signing the 2009 EU Monetary Convention and in a bid to shed its image as a financially shady tax haven in which the bank has long been embroiled in a scandal .

After its first on-site assessment in 2012, the Vatican received passing grades, but subsequent progress reports have repeatedly criticized Vatican prosecutors for failing to actually file complaints in many cases of suspicious transactions.

Wednesday’s Moneyval report reiterated that complaint, saying the Vatican prosecutor’s office and the office of the Vatican’s financial intelligence unit were understaffed to handle the workload. He also said the staff at the Vatican’s disposal were inexperienced in investigating and prosecuting complex financial transactions and crimes.

While some delays were due to slow responses from other countries, Moneyval criticized prosecutors for sitting on cases, waiting for convictions of suspects elsewhere and said they needed to set goals for carrying cases. in justice.

The evaluators also criticized the Vatican for relying on part-time prosecutors who also practice law in Italy, warning that they may have conflicts of interest and recommending that they devote themselves full-time to Vatican affairs.

Assessors also strongly contested the October 1, 2019 raid on the Vatican’s financial intelligence unit, which was cleared by the Pope and marked the first public disclosure of the London property case investigation. Vatican gendarmes seized computers and files, including confidential documents provided by other countries to the Holy See to aid the global fight against financial crimes.

Following the unprecedented raid, the Egmont group of national financial intelligence units suspended the Vatican from its confidential information-sharing network for two months, until Vatican prosecutors agree never to proceed again. to such an unexpected seizure.

According to details of the deal in the report, if Vatican prosecutors need such information in the future, a Vatican intelligence unit official will ask the foreign unit for prior permission to share the data. . If the foreign unit refuses, Vatican prosecutors will have to resort to a formal request for cooperation.

The Moneyval report criticized the conduct of the Vatican authorities in organizing the raid, saying there was no evidence that they carried out a risk assessment regarding the international consequences.

The raid resulted in the departure of senior officials from the office and the hiring of replacements who Moneyval said had “very limited” law enforcement or financial intelligence experience. The report lamented the “loss of institutional memory” that resulted in and called for action to reduce high office turnover.

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Europeans’ confidence in the EU affected by the response to the coronavirus | European Union Wed, 09 Jun 2021 05:00:00 +0000

Confidence in the EU’s ability to handle crises has been affected by Covid-19, major survey finds, but dissatisfaction with national political systems is even higher and most people still support the EU membership and want a stronger and more cooperative bloc.

The report’s authors suggested the poll should be a wake-up call for Brussels, warning that while public support for the wider European project remained high in many countries, it was fragile and would not easily survive further disappointment. .

Europeans “were making a distinction between the need for cooperation and solidarity at European level and their confidence in the EU to act”, they said, and were unhappy that the bloc had “missed an opportunity to prove its worth”.

The poll also suggested that Brexit had changed Europeans ‘perspective on the UK, with mainstream opinion now seeing Britain – like the US – as a’ necessary partner ‘with which to’ cooperate strategically. “rather than an ally, and one in four Germans and one in five French and Spanish respondents consider him to be a rival or an adversary.

The report, released by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) on Wednesday, suggested that the bloc’s poor early response to the pandemic and the slow initial rollout of the vaccine had taken a heavy toll on confidence in its capabilities.

In half of the states surveyed, most respondents had little trust in the EU or said their trust had deteriorated, with majorities in France (62%), Italy (57%), Germany (55%), Spain (52%) and Austria (51%) saying the EU project was “broken”.

However, disillusionment with national politics was even higher, with 80% of respondents in Italy and Spain, 66% in France, 60% in Portugal, 55% in Poland and 54% in Hungary stating that their own national political system was “broken”.

In addition, in all but one state, a majority of respondents still considered EU membership to be “a good thing” for their country (with the exception of France, where the largest number of people respondents said that membership was “neither good nor bad”.).

The survey revealed a broad feeling that the 27 members should cooperate more, with majorities in all 12 countries surveyed except France and Germany – where there were significant minorities of 47% and 45 % respectively – saying the coronavirus pandemic has shown a greater need for collaboration.

And despite their frustrations, respondents in eight of the 12 countries still see the EU as the key to their country’s recovery from the coronavirus crisis.

In every country surveyed, a majority of respondents – leading Portugal at 91%, Spain at 80%, Italy at 77% and Poland at 68% – said they would like to see the ‘EU adopt a more unified response in the future to global crises. and challenges.

A plurality also said they wanted to see the EU play a more assertive role on the world stage, for example by defending human rights and the rule of law when they are violated in countries like Turkey. and China, while emphasizing democratic values ​​and the rule of law within the bloc.

The authors of the report, Susi Dennison and Jana Puglierin, policy officers at ECFR, said that there remained a broad public consensus for greater European cooperation and collaboration on major international challenges, but that it was fragile.

“The fact that two of the largest and most influential states in the EU – France and Germany – are the least convinced of the need for European cooperation underlines the urgency with which the EU must improve its game, ”the authors wrote.

“Both countries have important national elections coming up next year, which could present a challenge for EU leaders. Our poll data indicates that the EU has exhausted its second chance.

They said EU leaders had had the opportunity at the G7, NATO and EU-US summits this summer to “relaunch the permissive consensus for the European project”, but must avoid “too much institutional scope or excessive promises”.

Instead, they said, they should focus on ‘playing a role where they can genuinely strengthen the efforts of national governments, and in which the European public wants to see them engaged’, such as human rights. man, the rule of law and democratic values.

Post-pandemic recovery would be critical, they said. “The commission cannot afford to make the same mistakes as it orchestrates the bloc’s economic recovery,” Dennison said. “The stimulus fund, by ushering in green and inclusive growth, could be the EU’s next achievement.”

Puglierin added that the data showed that Europeans wanted “decisive leadership that prioritizes multilateralism, and defends and defends their values ​​and interests on the world stage.” Senior EU officials would do well to listen and act on it. They may not have another chance.

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How some Americans might be eligible for Italian citizenship Tue, 08 Jun 2021 11:40:52 +0000

For many people, the year 2020 marked a fundamental shift in their values. Some have even decided to rethink assumptions they once took for granted. Arguably, this was true for many Americans of Italian descent for whom the pandemic appears to have acted as a catalyst to seek recognition of their Italian citizenship by descent. In fact, according to Italian Citizenship Assistance, a company specializing in this field, the year 2020 has seen an unprecedented increase in these applications for Italian citizenship, which have increased by 400% compared to 2019.

Why Italian nationality?

Among the issues that could have motivated many of these American candidates were the growing inequality of wealth in the United States, the prevalence of gun violence, and environmental and health concerns, not to mention the uncertainty surrounding the presidential election. Americans late last year. . On the contrary, this trend is expected to continue given the alarming events that took place in the nation’s capital in January 2021.

However, it must be said that Italian citizenship is also attractive in itself, for a number of reasons. Some of these include low-cost, high-quality universal healthcare, affordable university tuition fees, a competitive real estate market, and the right to work, study and reside in any member state of the EU.

There are several ways to acquire Italian nationality. An applicant can acquire Italian nationality by swear sanguinis (by right of blood – or descent), citizenship by marriage or citizenship by residence. However, for Americans, applying for citizenship by descent remains perhaps the most popular way. Marriage and residence are self-explanatory and require little further explanation, but citizenship by descent may be more attractive. Note that you can hold both US and Italian citizenship, in other words, dual citizenship is allowed.

Italian citizenship by descent

Eligibility for citizenship by descent depends on the naturalization of the Italian ancestor through which an individual claims citizenship and whether the naturalization took place after or before the birth of the child abroad. Along with other factors, the ancestor’s naturalization determines whether the applicant will have to apply for citizenship through an Italian consulate in the United States or through an application filed as a municipality in Italy, or through a court case. Such a decision would require expert advice.

The rules for acquiring Italian nationality by descent are complicated, but can be summarized as follows:

  • If a child is born to a parent who is an Italian citizen or to a parent entitled to Italian nationality, he or she has the nationality “jure sanguinis”. From now on, this parent will be known as the Italian parent.
  • In the case of Americans, if the child was born before August 16, 1992, the Italian parent must not have been naturalized in America or have acquired another nationality by naturalization at the time of the child’s birth. .
  • When using a female ancestor of Italian descent or an intermediate female ascendant, the child must be born on or after January 1, 1948. Apparently, however, this rule can be circumvented through a dispute in Italy for children born before that date.
  • Ancestors naturalized outside Italy before June 14, 1912 cannot transmit nationality (even to children born before their naturalization). This rule is applied in all consulates.

Important: the applicant must not have renounced Italian nationality. Most often, the waiver took place if the applicant naturalized as a citizen of another country voluntarily, as an adult, and before August 15, 1992.

All of the above conditions must be met by each person in a direct lineage. There is no generational limit to claiming Italian citizenship through “jus sanguinis”, except that the ancestor who immigrated from Italy must have died in the Italian peninsula or abroad after March 17th. 1861. Anyone who died before that date was not a citizen of Italy, as it was before the unification of Italy and, therefore, that person did not have the capacity to transmit Italian nationality.

Once the citizenship application is approved, the applicant is registered with the AREA (Register of Italian citizens residing abroad) and may then be issued an Italian passport.

Advantages of applying for Italian nationality by descent

According to Mila Lazzari, who helps applicants obtain Italian citizenship from Italian Citizenship Assistance, there are several advantages to holding dual citizenship. “Firstly, as an Italian citizen and therefore also a citizen of the EU, a person can travel, study or work anywhere in the European Union. In other words, no visa is needed to travel to any of the EU member states, and you can reside in Italy, as well as any other EU country, without any time limitation. . Lazzari continues: “Second, foreign spouses of Italian citizens can apply for a residence permit in Italy, as well as in another EU member state for the couple to be together without any restrictions or time limits.” She then adds: “Finally, if you apply for Italian nationality and your children are minors, they will automatically become Italian citizens when you obtain Italian nationality. Therefore, they will not need to go through the whole process of filing an application individually, and they will be able to transmit nationality to their children provided that they register the birth of their children in Italy through the l ‘AREA.

In short, for many Americans, obtaining Italian citizenship could be a good way to enter the EU. For some, this could be done while seeking to relinquish US citizenship. For others, obtaining Italian citizenship could be part of a dual citizenship plan that involves retaining their US citizenship while keeping their options open for the future, especially for their children who might one day want to study. or work abroad.

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EU welcomes G7 tax deal but internal divisions could thwart consensus Mon, 07 Jun 2021 18:22:17 +0000

The European Union is ready to take a giant leap in tax policy – and it does not plan to do it alone.

Last weekend the finance ministers and central bank governors of the G7 (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom and United States) has reached a historic agreement set an overall minimum corporate tax rate of 15 percent.

The deal also provides for a reallocation of taxing rights to ensure that the taxation of profits is no longer determined exclusively by a company’s physical presence, a status quo made obsolete by the growing dominance of cross-border tech multinationals, such as Google and Amazon. .

The G7 communiqué envisages taxing duties based on where companies sell their products and services, a method that will better reflect the reality of digitization and globalization.

With the deal, the G7 wants to end what US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has called the “race to the bottom”: in recent decades, developed economies have clashed to offer corporate taxes the most attractive with the objective of attracting new companies and new investors.

This mutual undercutting has resulted in a dramatic drop in corporate tax rates. A 2018 study conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 88 jurisdictions found an average corporate tax of 21.4%, up from 45 to 50% in the 1980s.

“A very big deal”

Supporters of a low corporate tax Argue that it helps businesses grow, motivates investors, curbs offshoring and rewards workers with higher wages.

Critics, on the other hand, argue that low rates deprive states of an important source of revenue to fund public services.

The G7 are aware that a simple deal will not entirely resolve the tense economic debate: the administration of US President Joe Biden initially defended a minimum rate of 21%, a figure that made international headlines but was quickly lost. questioned about its feasibility – and desirability.

The White House is hoping that the 15% margin serves as the bare minimum and that rich countries, currently heavily in debt and desperate to find ways to finance the post-coronavirus recovery, will go even further. The precise technical details of the G7 agreement have yet to be negotiated and it could take several years before it enters into force.

Similar discussions are expected to take place in the coming months at the G20 and the OECD, where the number of countries involved will be larger and the chances of success slimmer.

“Since 2015, the focus has been on preventing profit shifting and ensuring that countries pay taxes where they make their profits,” Rebecca Christie, uninvited researcher at Bruegel, told Euronews.

“15% globally would be a very big problem because there is currently no global agreement. Individual countries would be free to set higher tax rates if that was in line with their priorities and if it was something they could adopt. at national scale. Globally, it’s very difficult to get people to agree on anything. So agreeing on 15% would be a good thing. “


For the European Union, the breakthrough of the G7 is a major victory.

EU countries have some of the largest and most generous social protection systems in the world, covering areas such as social protection, health care, education, environment, housing and social security. culture. Public expenditure in the block represented more than 47 percent of total GDP. These services are extremely expensive and require a strong and stable tax mix to fund them.

As COVID-19 devastated the purchasing power of ordinary citizens and destroyed millions of jobs, and thus diminished income from the taxation of personal income and the purchase of goods, European governments have turned their focus on businesses, especially the larger ones, many of which have actually thrived. during the health crisis thanks to the sudden switch to the online world.

A report by the recently inaugurated EU Tax Observatory, a research center to help fight tax abuse, estimates the agreed minimum tax rate of 15% will allow the bloc to raise an additional € 50 billion in 2021 If the G7 had settled for a 21 percent rate, the EU could earn up to 170 billion euros.

“This [G7] agreement is a big step towards fairness and a level playing field, “said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Olaf Scholz, Germany’s finance minister, called it a “fiscal revolution” while his French counterpart, Bruno Le Maire, said it was “historic”. European Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni, who attended the G7 summit on behalf of the European Commission, also celebrated the news, calling it a “big step”.

Optimism has been on the rise in Brussels and across the continent since Janet Yellen publicly declared U.S. support for a global minimum tax rate in early April. Yellen’s words were far from altruistic: President Biden needs funds to finance his ambitious $ 2.3 trillion infrastructure bill.

In a clear sign of coordination, the Commission unveiled a strategy to adapt tax systems to the 21st century two weeks before the G7 meeting in London. As part of the plan, the executive promised to come up with a common tax base and a single regulation for businesses.

“The Commission is very involved [with tax reform]”, said Christie.”[It] will do everything in its power to ensure that the EU applies the [G7] agreement and that it complies with all EU treaties and laws. We will need European legislation. “

Litigious patchwork

Brussels hopes that the momentum instilled by the G7 will help pave the way for EU-wide unanimity, an unavoidable requirement established by the EU tax treaties.

But the road to unity could be a difficult and bumpy journey.

Four EU countries (Hungary, Bulgaria, Cyrus and Ireland) currently have corporate interest rates below the 15 percent mark. One of them, Hungary, even falls below the 10 per cent threshold. In contrast, Germany, Portugal, France and Malta exceed the 30% mark, which means their corporate tax rates are twice – if not three times – higher than those of their peers.

Raising their tax rates overnight to meet the G7 standard could upend a deeply entrenched economic environment and dispossess them of a very characteristic trait on the world stage.

“No one has the right to intervene in Hungary’s tax policy from abroad,” Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said last month as the debate gathered momentum.

The case of Ireland has received a lot of attention in recent years.

He promoted his corporate tax rate of 12.5 percent to persuade multinationals to establish their European headquarters inside the country.

Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Airbnb have all settled in Dublin around an area known as Silicon Docks, a nickname that mimics California’s Silicon Valley.

This system has seen large tech companies submit their profits under a generous scheme that critics say prevents other countries from taxing profits made within their borders.

The European Commission has tried to curb the practice it considers unfair: in 2016, Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition, ordered Apple to pay 13.1 billion euros, plus interest, in unpaid taxes to the Irish State. Vestager argued that Ireland’s tax benefits amounted to unlawful state aid.

The EU General Court later ruled in favor of Apple and criticized the weak reasoning of the European Commission. The Irish government welcomed the verdict, but Brussels said it intended to appeal and continue the fight.

As the battle unfolded in the Luxembourg court, some European countries like France, UK, Italy, Spain and Austria took matters into their own hands and decided to introduce special taxes for digital services as interim solutions until a global agreement is reached.

These agreements have not been coordinated and are of a different nature, but mainly target selected revenues of large digital companies. The White House finds them discriminatory because they primarily affect American businesses and has threatened to slap tariffs in retaliation.

Worried about fragmentation, the European Commission is working on its own EU-wide digital tax proposal, with the aim of making it operational by 2023. The executive said the levy will be modest and non-discriminatory and will operate alongside the OECD agreement.

“Not necessarily suitable”

The dispute over Apple and digital taxes serves as a foretaste of upcoming discussions at EU level. Small and medium-sized countries claim that they must offer attractive tax rates in order to compete with large economies.

“I look forward to participating in the discussions at the OECD. There are 139 countries around the table, and any agreement will have to meet the needs of countries large and small, developed and developing,” said Minister Paschal Donohoe. Irish Finance, on Twitter shortly after the conclusion of the agreement by the G7. Donohoe attended the summit in his capacity as President of the Eurogroup.

Billy Kelleher, an Irish MEP who sits on the liberal Renew Europe group, shares the minister’s point of view and believes that the final OECD agreement should be “tailored” to all kinds of countries.

“We have to accept that what is proposed by the G7 is not necessarily suited to the wider makeup of economies around the world. So I think we have a long way to go,” Kelleher told Euronews.

“Trying to impose a tax that is suitable for large economies around the world may not be enough to address differences in economic production and economic activity within countries. So I think we need to be aware of that as well.”

Kelleher believes a digital tax is necessary but warns against unfair and one-sided measures.

“We have companies that rake in huge profits. We also need to make sure that we tax it in a fair and equitable way to ensure that all countries can benefit from the income they generate. I just think we need to make sure that From that perspective, when we talk about digital taxation, for example, what we have is consistency across the world.

NGOs have also criticized the G7, although for different reasons. Oxfam International blasted the G7 for not going above 15 percent, saying the agreed threshold “would do little” to end the race to the bottom and the use of tax havens.

“It is absurd for the G7 to claim that it is ‘overhauling’ a failing global tax system by instituting a global minimum corporate tax rate similar to the soft rates charged by tax havens like Ireland, Switzerland and Singapore. They set the bar really high. So low that companies can just step over it “, mentionned Gabriela Bucher, Executive Director of Oxfam International.

“It will be impossible to stop the explosion of inequality caused by Covid-19 and tackle the climate crisis if companies continue to pay virtually no taxes.”

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Mario Draghi sets the tone in cooling EU-China relations Sun, 06 Jun 2021 03:52:06 +0000

It was the abortive takeover this year of an obscure Italian company with just over 50 employees that illustrated how one of China’s greatest diplomatic successes in Europe had collapsed.

In 2019, Rome stunned its American and European allies when Italy’s then-populist coalition government became the first G7 member to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Signed during a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, the agreement has propelled Italy to the forefront of Beijing’s battle for global power and influence.

But then, two years later, the new Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi quietly signed a decree symbolically ending the Italian court of China and containing Beijing’s beachhead in Western Europe.

The last Italian government had already started to calm down on Chinese investments amid strong American pressure. Nonetheless, Draghi’s decision marked a decisive Italian turn towards a foreign policy which he described as “strongly pro-European and Atlanticist, in line with Italy’s historical roots”.

It also foreshadowed a broader EU overhaul of Chinese relations which more recently led the European Parliament to freeze its pending trade deal with Beijing.

“To give the impression that Italy is aligned with the United States, sometimes you have to do little things to prove it,” said Michele Geraci, a Chinese expert who, as undersecretary for economic development, said was one of the architects of the Belt and Road of Italy. agreement with Beijing.

It was “a political statement to show that we are concerned about predatory acquisitions and that we are aligned with our American friends,” Geraci added. Italy’s participation in the Chinese BRI remains technically in effect, but has been virtually meaningless and no major deals have been reached.

The Sino-Italian outcome began in December, two months before Draghi was appointed prime minister. Shenzhen Investment Holdings, a partially state-owned Chinese company, has reached an agreement to buy a 70% stake in LPE, a private Milan-based company that manufactures semiconductor equipment.

But in March, with the Draghi government now in place, the decision to authorize the buyout routinely landed on the desk of Italy’s new Minister of Economic Development, Giancarlo Giorgetti.

A veteran lawmaker of the right-wing League party, Giorgetti has proposed invoking Italy’s so-called Golden Power laws to block foreign takeovers. Draghi signed the decree blocking the sale of LPE at a cabinet meeting on March 31, citing a semiconductor shortage, which made LPE a “strategic sector”.

LPE, which produces components for power electronics applications which are also used “in [the] military domain, ”as the decree described it, declined to comment. Shenzhen Invenland Holdings said it will continue to cooperate with LPE in some areas.

Draghi’s decision was a turning point for Italy and, according to Italian diplomats, possibly for the EU as well.

Only a few years ago, Italian politicians got excited about how Chinese money would help the struggling economy. Italy was the third European recipient of Chinese investments between 2000 and 2019, according to Rhodium Group, receiving a total of 15.9 billion euros against 50 billion euros in the United Kingdom, 22.7 billion euros in Germany and 14.4 billion euros in France.

In 2020, more than 400 Chinese groups also held stakes in 760 Italian companies in “highly profitable or strategic sectors”, according to the Italian parliamentary committee on national security, Copasir.

But today, in part because the pandemic has left many Italian companies vulnerable, Draghi’s government is taking a less lenient approach to strategic foreign investment than previous administrations and is not shying away from exercising its rules. gold to restrict them.

Last month, bolstered by € 205 billion in EU stimulus funds, Italy coordinated with France to undermine the sale of Italian truck maker Iveco to Chinese group FAW. This week, although Rome conditionally authorized a 5G infrastructure supply contract between Vodafone Italy and Chinese Huawei, it came with strict security conditions.

“The shift to China is a thing of the past,” said Edoardo Rixi, an MP for the League. “This political current barely exists today.”

Not everyone thinks a colder relationship with Beijing is in the interests of Italy or Europe.

Speaking this week, former Prime Minister Romano Prodi said: “Until a few months ago. . . the situation [between China and the EU] was more relaxed, but now the deal has been frozen. Prodi added that given the mutually strained relationship, “both sides need to change their attitude. . . for the moment, it is formally impossible to do anything ”.

Geraci is also concerned that the Draghi government’s shift to China could have economic repercussions for Italian companies in Beijing.

“Officially, the market for Italian products in China is 13 billion euros per year, but in fact it is three times that size if you count the products made in Italy which are then bought by China via third country. It’s an extremely important market for us.

How relationships might be recalibrated, however, remains an open question.

Lia Quartapelle, member of the Italian parliamentary foreign affairs committee for the center-left Democratic Party, said the previous pivot to China was an aberration in Italian foreign policy that opened a “geostrategic gash” at the heart of the country. ‘Europe.

Now, however, “Draghi’s caliber enables us not only to reinforce Western values, but to be the engine of recovery in the post-pandemic era,” she added.

Furthermore, with Germany absorbed in the elections this year and France next year, Draghi is an important European player whose firm Atlanticism could influence the EU’s broader policy towards China.

“Italy’s role in maintaining the right rudder will soon become even more crucial,” said Emma Bonino, former Italian foreign minister.

“Of course, dealing with China’s policy remains complicated; we cannot pretend that the country does not exist, ”she added. “We can trade with China as with the rest of the world, but we have to be clear about the differences and the rifts between us and them.”

Additional reporting by Qianer Liu in Shenzhen

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Italy expects 20% tourism increase in 2020 as restrictions ease Sat, 05 Jun 2021 17:45:00 +0000

Italy expects a 20% increase in summer tourists this year compared to 2020 as the country gradually eases restrictions on Covid-19, the Italian Tourism Federation said on Saturday.

“The summer season 2021 shows the first signs of a recovery in the sector. Between June and August, 33 million arrivals are expected as well as 140 million nights spent in official (tourist) structures, an increase of 20.8 % from 2020, ”Assoturismo said after an investigation. 2,185 tourism businesses.

The federation added that this would bring the sector around 12.8 billion euros ($ 15.6 billion) in tourism revenue – around three-quarters of Italian compatriots visiting other regions.

Despite this, Assoturismo said the increase “would not be enough to return to pre-Covid levels” because the summer of 2019, the last before the pandemic, saw an additional 73.5 million nights spent in the country.

Before the pandemic, tourism accounted for 14% of GDP in Italy – the EU’s third-largest economy – and the fallout from the coronavirus helped tip Italy into its worst recession since World War II.

Despite the reopening of many air links, the sector is pinning its hopes on short-term tourism this summer as locals consider coastal breaks as well as major cities attract Rome, Florence and Venice.

These shorter journeys are expected to increase by a quarter compared to last year, helped in particular by price cuts of up to a third.

Italy hopes to welcome 6.7 million more foreign tourists this year than in 2020, but arrivals will still be much lower, by around two-thirds, compared to 2019 when the 100 million mark was crossed.

“After 12 terrible months, Italian tourism can finally detect concrete signs of recovery. But it is still a slow recovery, especially when it comes to foreign demand which will not be enough to remove what has been lost with it. the pandemic “, declared the president of Assoturismo Vittorio. Messina.

“Our hope is that the end of season sales will give us better results thanks to the European health passport,” added Messina.

She said she regretted that uncertainty over dates to ease restrictions and curfew limitations had pushed some foreign visitors to other destinations.

Italian authorities have gradually lifted the restrictions as virus data improved.

The current curfew, which previously ran from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., will be pushed back one hour from Monday to start at midnight.

Bars and restaurants will also be permitted to serve indoors at tables limited to a maximum of four customers.

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Italy 2nd in the EU in terms of citizens fully vaccinated against COVID-19 – Authorities Sat, 05 Jun 2021 14:01:37 +0000

Italy is just behind Germany in the number of citizens fully vaccinated against coronavirus disease in Europe, with the record 600,000 doses administered by the country on Friday alone, the COVID commissioner’s office said on Saturday. -19 Francesco Paolo Figliuolo.

ROME (UrduPoint News / Sputnik – June 05, 2021) Italy is second behind Germany in the number of citizens fully vaccinated against coronavirus disease in Europe, with the record 600,000 doses administered by the country nothing that on Friday, the office of COVID-19 Commissioner Francesco Paolo Figliuolo announced on Saturday.

According to health authorities, Italy has fully vaccinated more than 12.7 million people, or 22.48% of the population over 12 years old. The country has administered more than 37 million doses. Meanwhile, Germany says it has fully vaccinated more than 17.2 million people, with a total of more than 54.

2 million doses administered.

“One of the key factors in the increase in the number of vaccines administered is the increase in the number of vaccination posts, which currently stands at 2,666. Also, we should add more than 800 posts set up by companies. , businesses and other economic actors. actors, ”the office said in a statement.

Italy launched its vaccination campaign on December 27 and aims for 80% of the population to be immunized by the end of September. The European country expects around 20 million doses to arrive by June.

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