New Brand of Activist Takes Aim at Ukraine War and Climate Crisis, Together

Led by young women from Eastern Europe, they are cornering Europe’s leaders and pressing them for a total energy embargo on Russia — to end the fighting and to save the planet.

#brussels-belgium, #demonstrations-protests-and-riots, #dominika-lasota, #eastern-europe, #economic-conditions-and-trends, #embargoes-and-sanctions, #europe, #european-commission, #european-council, #european-parliament, #european-union, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #greenpeace, #macron-emmanuel-1977, #metsola-roberta, #michel-charles-1975, #morawiecki-mateusz, #oil-petroleum-and-gasoline, #politics-and-government, #russian-invasion-of-ukraine-2022, #strasbourg-france, #thunberg-greta, #total-sa, #ukraine, #von-der-leyen-ursula, #war-and-armed-conflicts, #wiktoria-jedroszkowiak, #youth

A Defiant Putin Says Russia Will Flourish Without the West

In a speech at an economic forum, he called the U.S. a fading power and said sanctions on Russia, not the Ukraine war, are hurting Western economies.

#economic-conditions-and-trends, #european-commission, #johnson-boris, #moldova, #putin-vladimir-v, #russian-invasion-of-ukraine-2022, #st-petersburg-russia, #ukraine

Finland Moves to Join NATO, Upending Putin’s Ukraine War Aims

Neutral Finland’s leaders unequivocally said they intended to seek membership in the alliance, with Sweden expected to do the same, inviting new threats from Moscow.

#civilian-casualties, #cold-war-era, #donetsk-ukraine, #europe, #european-commission, #finland, #luhansk-ukraine, #marin-sanna, #niinisto-sauli, #nordic-countries, #north-atlantic-treaty-organization, #putin-vladimir-v, #russian-invasion-of-ukraine-2022, #siemens-ag

Europe Will Pay a High Price to Free Itself From Russian Energy

Soaring energy prices may speed the continent’s move to a green energy future.

#alternative-and-renewable-energy, #europe, #european-commission, #global-warming, #international-trade-and-world-market, #natural-gas, #politics-and-government, #prices-fares-fees-and-rates, #russia, #russian-invasion-of-ukraine-2022, #ukraine

Officials Say Russian Art, Seized by Finns, Should Return Home

Finnish custom officials had seized the art several days ago, but the Finns and European Union officials decided that art lent to museums for exhibit did not come under sanctions.

#art, #culture-arts, #embargoes-and-sanctions, #european-commission, #european-union, #finland, #museums, #russia, #russian-invasion-of-ukraine-2022

Amid Sanctions, Putin Reminds the World of His Own Economic Weapons

The Russian leader has stabilized the ruble and kept Europe’s leaders guessing by threatening to cut off energy. But he has left the country financially isolated.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #central-bank-of-russia, #economic-conditions-and-trends, #embargoes-and-sanctions, #european-commission, #european-union, #international-trade-and-world-market, #politics-and-government, #putin-vladimir-v, #ruble-currency, #russian-invasion-of-ukraine-2022, #scholz-olaf-1958, #united-states-international-relations, #von-der-leyen-ursula

Europe and the U.S. Make Ambitious Plans to Reduce Reliance on Russian Gas

President Biden said the United States would send more natural gas to Europe, though he did not specify how given that the U.S. is already near its export capacity.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #embargoes-and-sanctions, #europe, #european-commission, #european-union, #germany, #global-warming, #international-trade-and-world-market, #natural-gas, #oil-petroleum-and-gasoline, #putin-vladimir-v, #russian-invasion-of-ukraine-2022, #united-states, #united-states-international-relations, #united-states-politics-and-government, #von-der-leyen-ursula

European Union countries agree to jointly purchase gas.

European leaders announced the agreement Friday, an effort to ease their reliance on Russia and contain energy costs.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #european-commission, #european-union, #group-of-seven, #hydrogen, #natural-gas, #north-atlantic-treaty-organization, #oil-petroleum-and-gasoline, #russian-invasion-of-ukraine-2022, #storage, #united-states-international-relations

E.U. Weighs Energy Market Interventions and Storage Options

The European Commission laid out proposals for how the bloc could secure and store enough fuel for the winter.

#brussels-belgium, #embargoes-and-sanctions, #european-commission, #european-union, #natural-gas, #putin-vladimir-v, #russian-invasion-of-ukraine-2022, #storage

Will War Make Europe’s Switch to Clean Energy Even Harder?

A wind turbine factory in Denmark and a coal mine in Poland illustrate the painful policy choices after Russia’s aggression in Ukraine added urgency to the transition to greener energy.

#coal, #economic-conditions-and-trends, #european-commission, #european-union, #fuel-emissions-transportation, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #mines-and-mining, #nord-stream-ag, #oil-petroleum-and-gasoline, #politics-and-government, #russian-invasion-of-ukraine-2022, #solar-energy, #wind-power

U.S. Casts a Global Net to Stop Shipments to Russia

To try to halt the war in Ukraine, the U.S. and its allies have imposed the most sweeping export controls seen in decades on Russia. Now they have to enforce them.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #commerce-department, #embargoes-and-sanctions, #european-commission, #european-union, #international-relations, #international-trade-and-world-market, #putin-vladimir-v, #raimondo-gina-m, #russian-invasion-of-ukraine-2022, #united-states-international-relations

Nadia Calviño, a Top Spanish Official, Wants More Women at the Decision-Making Table

Many of Spain’s leaders are female — evidence, Nadia Calviño says, of the “feminist society” that has emerged in her nation.

#calvino-nadia, #european-commission, #politics-and-government, #spain, #women-and-girls, #women-and-leadership-2022, #womens-rights

Why Joining the E.U. May Not Be Easy for Ukraine

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is helping to focus minds in Brussels. But the country has big hurdles to overcome before it can join the E.U., the world’s biggest trading bloc.

#europe, #european-commission, #european-union, #russian-invasion-of-ukraine-2022, #ukraine, #zelensky-volodymyr

Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Exposed E.U.’s Energy Vulnerabilities

The organization’s energy commissioner said the Russian invasion of Ukraine had exposed vulnerabilities in European energy supplies.

#energy-and-power, #european-commission, #european-union, #international-trade-and-world-market, #natural-gas, #reserves-natural-resources, #russian-invasion-of-ukraine-2022

European Leaders Agree to a Second Wave of Russia Sanctions

The new measures will hit Russia’s access to technology and its elite’s abilities to travel and save money in Europe, but omitted other steps harder to agree on.

#embargoes-and-sanctions, #europe, #european-commission, #european-union, #international-trade-and-world-market, #putin-vladimir-v, #russia, #russian-invasion-of-ukraine-2022, #ukraine, #von-der-leyen-ursula

African and European Leaders Meet Against Backdrop of Enduring Problems

A top-level meeting of all E.U. leaders and 40 African counterparts aims to reset the relationship as a partnership of equals. But migration and vaccine equity remain obstacles.

#africa, #african-union, #colonization, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #europe, #european-commission, #european-union, #international-trade-and-world-market, #politics-and-government, #vaccination-and-immunization

Top European Court Rules E.U. Can Freeze Aid to Poland and Hungary

In a landmark decision, the European Court of Justice cleared the way for the bloc to cut billions in aid on the grounds that members are eroding rule-of-law checks and balances.

#budgets-and-budgeting, #decisions-and-verdicts, #economic-conditions-and-trends, #europe, #european-commission, #european-court-of-justice, #european-union, #hungary, #orban-viktor, #poland, #politics-and-government, #stimulus-economic

E.U. Cuts Payments to Poland in Dispute Over Unpaid Fines

For the first time, the E.U. executive arm said it would divert millions in grants to a member country to cover unpaid fines, escalating a confrontation despite jitters over Ukraine.

#courts-and-the-judiciary, #duda-andrzej-1972, #european-commission, #european-court-of-justice, #european-union, #fines-penalties, #hungary, #poland, #politics-and-government

Afghan Refugees Face Two-Tier System in Europe

Educated elites evacuated to Europe after the Taliban’s return are welcomed, but they struggle with their lives in exile, even as their poorer compatriots are shunned.

#afghanistan, #afghanistan-war-2001, #asylum-right-of, #europe, #european-commission, #european-union, #evacuations-and-evacuees, #frontex, #greece, #illegal-immigration, #immigration-and-emigration, #middle-east-and-africa-migrant-crisis, #politics-and-government, #refugees-and-displaced-persons, #taliban

EU plans to label natural gas and nuclear power plants “sustainable”

EU plans to label natural gas and nuclear power plants “sustainable”

Enlarge (credit: iStock)

The European Union says it wants to “prevent greenwashing” among investors, but a new proposal may end up encouraging the behavior it wants to banish.

The European Commission put forward a plan today that defines what counts as a “sustainable investment,” something that’s all but required to manage a transition to clean energy. But to the chagrin of several EU countries, environmental groups, and asset managers, the proposal would allow both natural gas and nuclear to qualify as “contributing substantially to climate change mitigation.”

The split-the-baby approach came about because some countries, including Germany and Poland, lobbied for the inclusion of natural gas, while others, notably France, lobbied for nuclear power. Germany, which is in the process of shuttering its nuclear power plants, remains heavily dependent on coal and has been boosting its use of natural gas to “transition” away from coal. France, on the other hand, uses relatively little natural gas and gets nearly all of its electricity from nuclear power plants.

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#carbon-emissions, #climate-change, #european-commission, #european-union, #natural-gas, #nuclear-power, #policy, #sustainability

Google Faces New Antitrust Law in Europe

A small search engine company in the Czech Republic helped inspire a law that is poised to put major limits on tech giants like Google.

#android-operating-system, #antitrust-laws-and-competition-issues, #computers-and-the-internet, #czech-republic, #europe, #european-commission, #european-union, #google-inc, #regulation-and-deregulation-of-industry, #search-engines, #seznam-as, #smartphones, #suits-and-litigation-civil

How the European Union Allowed Hungary to Become an Illiberal Model

After years of complacency and wishful thinking, Brussels is finally trying to rein in the country’s pugnacious leader, Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

#europe, #european-commission, #european-union, #hungary, #orban-viktor, #politics-and-government, #treaty-of-lisbon-2007

How the E.U. Allowed Hungary to Become an Illiberal Model

After years of complacency and wishful thinking, Brussels is finally trying to rein in the country’s pugnacious leader, Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

#europe, #european-commission, #european-union, #hungary, #orban-viktor, #politics-and-government, #treaty-of-lisbon-2007

Europe Plans to Say Nuclear Power and Natural Gas Are Green Investments

The draft proposal could help unleash a wave of investment, but critics say both sources of energy cause damage to the environment.

#alternative-and-renewable-energy, #europe, #european-commission, #european-union, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #natural-gas, #nuclear-energy, #nuclear-wastes, #politics-and-government

Novavax’s Covid Vaccine Is Authorized in Europe

The vaccine will be the fifth to become available in the E.U., which already has ample supplies.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-omicron-variant, #drugs-pharmaceuticals, #europe, #european-commission, #european-union, #novavax-inc, #vaccination-and-immunization

E.U. Proposes Changes That Would Chip Away at Borderless Model

The plan would institutionalize internal border controls to respond to emergencies, suspending some protections for asylum seekers.

#asylum-right-of, #belarus, #belarus-poland-border-crisis-2021, #europe, #european-commission, #european-union, #immigration-and-emigration, #middle-east-and-africa-migrant-crisis, #poland, #politics-and-government

Amazon fined €1.1 billion by Italy for antitrust abuse

Amazon fined €1.1 billion by Italy for antitrust abuse

Enlarge (credit: NurPhoto | Amazon)

Amazon said it would appeal a €1.1 billion fine from Italy after antitrust investigators found the online shopping giant had given unfair preference to sellers who also ship their goods through Amazon’s logistics service.

Amazon had previously tried to halt the case in Italy on the grounds that it is facing a parallel investigation in Brussels covering the same ground. Its attempt was dismissed in November by the European General Court in Luxembourg.

On Thursday, Italy’s competition regulator said Amazon had been more lenient in applying performance criteria, which can lead in extreme cases to merchants being suspended, if sellers were also paying for Amazon to ship their parcels.

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#amazon, #antitrust, #eu, #european-commission, #italy, #monopoly, #policy

Gig Worker Protections Get a Push in European Proposal

A proposal with widespread political support would entitle drivers and couriers for companies like Uber to a minimum wage and legal protections.

#car-services-and-livery-cabs, #deliveroo-roofoods-ltd, #delivery-services, #europe, #european-commission, #labor-and-jobs, #politics-and-government, #regulation-and-deregulation-of-industry, #uber-technologies-inc, #wages-and-salaries

In Cyprus, Pope’s Plea for Migrants Clashes With Island’s Tensions

As he celebrated Mass, Pope Francis urged Cypriots to welcome refugees and embrace their home’s history as a crossroads of cultures. But the government says it is overwhelmed.

#asylum-right-of, #cyprus, #european-commission, #european-union, #francis, #greece, #illegal-immigration, #immigration-and-emigration, #middle-east-and-africa-migrant-crisis, #politics-and-government, #roman-catholic-church, #united-nations

Google Loses Appeal of $2.8 Billion E.U. Antitrust Fine

European antitrust regulators said Google gave preferential treatment to its own price-comparison shopping service over rival services.

#antitrust-laws-and-competition-issues, #computers-and-the-internet, #europe, #european-commission, #european-union, #fines-penalties, #general-court-european-union, #google-inc, #regulation-and-deregulation-of-industry, #search-engines, #vestager-margrethe

E.U. Blames Belarus for Migrant Crisis at Poland Border

Poland has massed troops at the border, the European Union’s eastern frontier, to keep migrants camped there from crossing into the country.

#belarus, #defense-and-military-forces, #european-commission, #european-union, #immigration-and-emigration, #lukashenko-aleksandr-g, #middle-east-and-africa-migrant-crisis, #nationalism-theory-and-philosophy, #poland, #politics-and-government

Bitterness Over Brexit Lies Behind Fraying France-U.K. Relations

A recent dispute over fishing rights illuminates a broader and more fundamental disagreement over Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.

#araud-gerard-1953, #castex-jean, #european-commission, #european-union, #france, #great-britain, #great-britain-withdrawal-from-eu-brexit, #international-relations, #international-trade-and-world-market, #johnson-boris, #macron-emmanuel-1977, #politics-and-government, #von-der-leyen-ursula

Apple’s Federighi delivers dramatic speech on dangers of sideloading

Apple's Software Engineering SVP Craig Federighi speaks at Web Summit 2021.

Enlarge / Apple’s Software Engineering SVP Craig Federighi speaks at Web Summit 2021. (credit: Web Summit)

Apple executive Craig Federighi, who is responsible for the company’s iOS software for iPhones, delivered a lengthy speech intended to alarm listeners about what might happen if Apple is forced to allow users to sideload apps. The speech was given at Web Summit 2021 in Lisbon, Portugal, and it expands on earlier, similar statements from Apple CEO Tim Cook.

The European Commission is actively discussing the Digital Markets Act (DMA), which is intended to regulate big tech platforms to ensure a fair playing ground. Companies like Apple could face fines of up to 10 percent of their global revenue.

In its current proposed form, the DMA would force Apple to begin allowing sideloading on the iPhone or face such fines. Federighi called the DMA out specifically in his speech, briefly voicing support for it overall but singling out the sideloading provision in almost apocalyptic terms.

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#apple, #big-tech, #craig-federighi, #eu, #european-commission, #european-union, #ios, #iphone, #regulation, #sideloading, #tech, #web-summit, #web-summit-2021

Poland’s Attacks on Rule of Law Leave Europe at Odds With Itself

E.U. leaders are facing an increasingly urgent question: What to do with a member that repeatedly violates a core principle, but refuses to leave the club?

#civil-rights-and-liberties, #european-commission, #european-court-of-justice, #european-union, #fines-penalties, #hungary, #international-relations, #law-and-legislation, #poland, #politics-and-government

Britain Escalates Dispute With European Union Over Northern Ireland

Britain’s Brexit minister is demanding an overhaul of an agreement on trade rules for Northern Ireland.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #conservative-party-great-britain, #coveney-simon, #european-commission, #european-court-of-justice, #european-union, #great-britain, #great-britain-withdrawal-from-eu-brexit, #johnson-boris, #northern-ireland, #politics-and-government

Why Is Poland Fighting the Supremacy of European Union Courts?

Poland argues that its courts should supersede the bloc’s top court. The E.U. sharply disagrees.

#brussels-belgium, #constitutions, #european-commission, #european-union, #law-and-justice-poland, #poland, #politics-and-government, #treaties, #treaty-of-lisbon-2007

As Europe Faces a Cold Winter, Putin Seizes on the Leverage From Russia’s Gas Output

Critics claim Russia is manipulating the flow of gas to push up prices, but for Vladimir Putin it’s schadenfreude over Western European nations that he sees as unprepared.

#economic-conditions-and-trends, #european-commission, #gazprom, #germany, #merkel-angela, #natural-gas, #oil-petroleum-and-gasoline, #pipelines, #politics-and-government, #putin-vladimir-v, #russia

Europe Tightens Purse Strings to Try to Pressure Poland and Hungary

Frustrations over rule of law violations in the two countries have prompted the European Union to block payments in an effort to bolster legal action.

#courts-and-the-judiciary, #european-commission, #european-court-of-justice, #hungary, #poland, #politics-and-government

European Union announces plans to require all mobile devices to use USB-C

iPads with USB-C ports.

Enlarge / iPads with USB-C ports. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

The European Commission has announced its intent to enact legislation that would mandate all consumer electronic devices sold in the European market have a USB-C port for charging.

Should the new rules be enacted, they would make it illegal to sell consumer electronic devices that lack that port. The law would apply to smartphones, video game consoles, portable speakers, cameras, and some types of headphones—but it would not apply to devices that only use wireless charging.

It also would not prevent devices from having additional ports for charging, as long as they also have a USB-C charging port.

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#apple, #european-commission, #european-union, #legislation, #lightning, #ports, #regulation, #smartphones, #tech, #usb-c

Europe plans a Chips Act to boost semiconductor sovereignty

The EU will use legislation to push for greater resilience and sovereignty in regional semiconductor supply chains.

The bloc’s president trailed a forthcoming ‘European Chips Act’ in a state of the union speech today. Ursula von der Leyen suggested that gaining greater autonomy in chipmaking is now a key component of the EU’s overarching digital strategy.

She flagged the global shortage of semiconductors, which has led to slow downs in production for a range of products that rely on chips to drive data processing — from cars and trains to smartphones and other consumer electronics — as driving EU lawmakers’ concern about European capacity in this area.

“There is no digital without chips,” said von der Leyen. “While we speak, whole production lines are already working at reduced speed — despite growing demand — because of a shortage of semi-conductors.

“But while global demand has exploded, Europe’s share across the entire value chain, from design to manufacturing capacity has shrunk. We depend on state-of-the-art chips manufactured in Asia. So this is not just a matter of our competitiveness. This is also a matter of tech sovereignty. So let’s put all of our focus on it.”

The Chips Act will aim to link together the EU’s semiconductor research, design and testing capacities, she said, calling for “coordination” between EU and national investments in this area to help boost the bloc’s self-sufficiency.

“The aim is to jointly create a state-of-the-art European chip ecosystem, including production. That ensures our security of supply and will develop new markets for ground-breaking European tech,” she added.

The EU president couched the ambition for bolstering European chip capacity as a “daunting task” but likened the mission to what the bloc did with its Galileo satellite navigation system two decades ago.

“Today European satellites provide the navigation system for more than 2 billion smartphones worldwide. We are world leaders. So let’s be bold again, this time with semi-conductors.”

In follow up remarks, the EU’s internal market commissioner, Thierry Breton, put a little more meat on the bones of the legislative plan — saying the Commission wants to integrate Member State efforts into a “coherent” pan-EU semiconductor strategy and also create a framework “to avoid a race to national public subsidies fragmenting the single market”.

The aim will be to “set conditions to protect European interests and place Europe firmly in the global geopolitical landscape”, he added.

Per Breton, the Chip Act will comprise three elements: Firstly, a semiconductor research strategy that will aim to build on work being done by institutions such as IMEC in Belgium, LETI/CEA in France and Fraunhofer in Germany.

“Building on the existing research partnership (the KDT Joint Undertaking), we need to up our game, and design a strategy to push the research ambitions of Europe to the next level while preserving our strategic interests,” he noted.

The second component will consist of a collective plan to boost European chipmaking capacity.

He said the planned legislation will aim to support chip supply chain monitoring and resilience across design, production, packaging, equipment and suppliers (e.g. producers of wafers).

The goal will be to support the development of European “mega fabs” that are able to produce high volumes of the most advanced (towards 2nm and below) and energy-efficient semiconductors.

However the EU isn’t planning for a future when it can make all the chips it needs itself.

The last plank of the European Chip Act will set out a framework for international co-operation and partnership.

“The idea is not to produce everything on our own here in Europe. In addition to making our local production more resilient, we need to design a strategy to diversify our supply chains in order to decrease over-dependence on a single country or region,” Breton went on. “And while the EU aims to remain the top global destination of foreign investment and we welcome foreign investment to help increase our production capacity especially in high-end technology, through the European Chips Act we will also put the right conditions in place to preserve Europe’s security of supply.”

“The US are now discussing a massive investment under the American Chips Act designed to finance the creation of an American research centre and to help open up advanced production factories. The objective is clear: to increase the resilience of US semiconductor supply chains,” he added.

“Taiwan is positioning itself to ensure its primacy on semiconductor manufacturing. China, too, is trying to close the technological gap as it is constrained by export control rules to avoid technological transfers. Europe cannot and will not lag behind.”

In additional documentation released today, the EU said the Chips Act will build on other digital initiatives already presented by the Von der Leyen Commission — such as moves to contain the power of “gatekeeper” Internet giants and increase platforms’ accountability (the Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act); regulate high risk applications of AI (the Artificial Intelligence Act); tackle online disinformation (via a beefed up code of practice); and boost investment in regional digital infrastructure and skills.

#consumer-electronics, #digital-markets-act, #digital-services-act, #europe, #european-chips-act, #european-commission, #european-union, #fraunhofer, #hardware, #semiconductor, #semiconductors, #supply-chain, #thierry-breton, #ursula-von-der-leyen

Don’t Let the Fossil Fuel Industry Pivot to Toxic Plastics and Chemicals

As we confront climate change, focusing on a single metric, like greenhouse gas emissions, could leave other harmful practices unaddressed.

#africa, #chemicals, #environmental-protection-agency, #european-commission, #european-union, #far-east-south-and-southeast-asia-and-pacific-areas, #flame-retardants, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #hazardous-and-toxic-substances, #international-energy-agency, #mckinseyco, #national-academies-of-the-united-states, #natural-gas, #ohio, #oil-petroleum-and-gasoline, #pennsylvania, #plastics, #recycling-of-waste-materials, #united-states, #waste-materials-and-disposal

Stop using Zoom, Hamburg’s DPA warns state government

Hamburg’s state government has been formally warned against using Zoom over data protection concerns.

The German state’s data protection agency (DPA) took the step of issuing a public warning yesterday, writing in a press release that the Senate Chancellory’s use of the popular videoconferencing tool violates the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) since user data is transferred to the US for processing.

The DPA’s concern follows a landmark ruling (Schrems II) by Europe’s top court last summer which invalidated a flagship data transfer arrangement between the EU and the US (Privacy Shield), finding US surveillance law to be incompatible with EU privacy rights.

The fallout from Schrems II has been slow to manifest — beyond an instant blanket of legal uncertainty. However a number of European DPAs are now investigating the use of US-based digital services because of the data transfer issue, and in some instances publicly warning against the use of mainstream US tools like Facebook and Zoom because user data cannot be adequately safeguarded when it’s taken over the pond.

German agencies are among the most proactive in this respect. But the EU’s data protection supervisor is also investigating the bloc’s use of cloud services from US giants Amazon and Microsoft over the same data transfer concern.

At the same time, negotiations between the European Commission and the Biden administration to seek a replacement data transfer deal remain ongoing. However EU lawmakers have repeatedly warned against any quick fix — saying reform of US surveillance law is likely required before there can be a revived Privacy Shield. And as the legal limbo continues a growing number of public bodies in Europe are facing pressure to ditch US-based services in favor of compliant local alternatives.

In the Hamburg case, the DPA says it took the step of issuing the Senate Chancellory with a public warning after the body did not provide an adequate response to concerns raised earlier.

The agency asserts that use of Zoom by the public body does not comply with the GDPR’s requirement for a valid legal basis for processing personal data, writing: “The documents submitted by the Senate Chancellery on the use of Zoom show that [GDPR] standards are not being adhered to.”

The DPA initiated a formal procedure earlier, via a hearing, on June 17, 2021 but says the Senate Chancellory failed to stop using the videoconferencing tool. Nor did it provide any additional documents or arguments to demonstrate compliance usage. Hence the DPA taking the step of a formal warning, under Article 58 (2) (a) of the GDPR.

In a statement, Ulrich Kühn, the acting Hamburg commissioner for data protection and freedom of information, dubbed it “incomprehensible” that the regional body was continuing to flout EU law in order to use Zoom — pointing out that a local alternative, provided by the German company Dataport (which supplies software to a number of state, regional and local government bodies) is readily available.

In the statement [translated with Google Translate], Kühn said: “Public bodies are particularly bound to comply with the law. It is therefore more than regrettable that such a formal step had to be taken. At the [Senate Chancellery of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg], all employees have access to a tried and tested video conference tool that is unproblematic with regard to third-country transmission. As the central service provider, Dataport also provides additional video conference systems in its own data centers. These are used successfully in other regions such as Schleswig-Holstein. It is therefore incomprehensible why the Senate Chancellery insists on an additional and legally highly problematic system.”

We’ve reached out to the Hamburg DPA and Senate Chancellory with questions.

Zoom has also been contacted for comment.

#data-protection, #data-security, #dataport, #digital-rights, #eu-us-privacy-shield, #europe, #european-commission, #european-union, #general-data-protection-regulation, #government, #hamburg, #personal-data, #privacy, #schrems-ii, #surveillance-law, #united-states, #video-conferencing, #zoom

EU hits Amazon with record-breaking $887M GDPR fine over data misuse

Luxembourg’s National Commission for Data Protection (CNPD) has hit Amazon with a record-breaking €746 million ($887m) GDPR fine over the way it uses customer data for targeted advertising purposes.

Amazon disclosed the ruling in an SEC filing on Friday in which it slammed the decision as baseless and added that it intended to defend itself “vigorously in this matter.”

“Maintaining the security of our customers’ information and their trust are top priorities,” an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement. “There has been no data breach, and no customer data has been exposed to any third party. These facts are undisputed.

“We strongly disagree with the CNPD’s ruling, and we intend to appeal. The decision relating to how we show customers relevant advertising relies on subjective and untested interpretations of European privacy law, and the proposed fine is entirely out of proportion with even that interpretation.”

The penalty is the result of a 2018 complaint by French privacy rights group La Quadrature du Net, a group that claims to represent the interests of thousands of Europeans to ensure their data isn’t used by big tech companies to manipulate their behavior for political or commercial purposes. The complaint, which also targets Apple, Facebook Google and LinkedIn and was filed on behalf of more than 10,000 customers, alleges that Amazon manipulates customers for commercial means by choosing what advertising and information they receive.

La Quadrature du Net welcomed the fine issued by the CNPD, which “comes after three years of silence that made us fear the worst.”

“The model of economic domination based on the exploitation of our privacy and free will is profoundly illegitimate and contrary to all the values that our democratic societies claim to defend,” the group added in a blog post published on Friday.

The CNPD has also ruled that Amazon must commit to changing its business practices. However, the regulator has not publicly committed on its decision, and Amazon didn’t specify what revised business practices it is proposing.

The record penalty, which trumps the €50 million GDPR penalty levied against Google in 2019, comes amid heightened scrutiny of Amazon’s business in Europe. In November last year, the European Commission announced formal antitrust charges against the company, saying the retailer has misused its position to compete against third-party businesses using its platform. At the same time, the Commission a second investigation into its alleged preferential treatment of its own products on its site and those of its partners.

#amazon, #apple, #big-tech, #companies, #computing, #data-protection, #data-security, #europe, #european-commission, #facebook, #general-data-protection-regulation, #google, #policy, #privacy, #spokesperson, #tc, #u-s-securities-and-exchange-commission

European Investment Fund puts $30M in Fabric Ventures’ new $120M digital assets fund

Despite their rich engineering talent, Blockchain entrepreneurs in the EU often struggle to find backing due to the dearth of large funds and investment expertise in the space. But a big move takes place at an EU level today, as the European Investment Fund makes a significant investment into a blockchain and digital assets venture fund.

Fabric Ventures, a Luxembourg-based VC billed as backing the “Open Economy” has closed $120 million for its 2021 fund, $30 million of which is coming from the European Investment Fund (EIF). Other backers of the new fund include 33 founders, partners, and executives from Ethereum, (Transfer)Wise, PayPal, Square, Google, PayU, Ledger, Raisin, Ebury, PPRO, NEAR, Felix Capital, LocalGlobe, Earlybird, Accelerator Ventures, Aztec Protocol, Raisin, Aragon, Orchid, MySQL, Verifone, OpenOcean, Claret Capital, and more. 

This makes it the first EIF-backed fund mandated to invest in digital assets and blockchain technology.

EIF Chief Executive Alain Godard said:  “We are very pleased to be partnering with Fabric Ventures to bring to the European market this fund specializing in Blockchain technologies… This partnership seeks to address the need [in Europe] and unlock financing opportunities for entrepreneurs active in the field of blockchain technologies – a field of particular strategic importance for the EU and our competitiveness on the global stage.”

The subtext here is that the EIF wants some exposure to these new, decentralized platforms, potentially as a bulwark against the centralized platforms coming out of the US and China.

And yes, while the price of Bitcoin has yo-yo’d, there is now $100 billion invested in the decentralized finance sector and $1.5 billion market in the NFT market. This technology is going nowhere.

Fabric hasn’t just come from nowhere, either. Various Fabric Ventures team members have been involved in Orchestream, the Honeycomb Project at Sun Microsystems, Tideway, RPX, Automic, Yoyo Wallet, and Orchid.

Richard Muirhead is Managing Partner, and is joined by partners Max Mersch and Anil Hansjee. Hansjee becomes General Partner after leaving PayPal’s Venture Fund, which he led for EMEA. The team has experience in token design, market infrastructure, and community governance.

The same team started the Firestartr fund in 2012, backing Tray.io, Verse, Railsbank, Wagestream, Bitstamp, and others.

Muirhead said: “It is now well acknowledged that there is a need for a web that is user-owned and, consequently, more human-centric. There are astonishing people crafting this digital fabric for the benefit of all. We are excited to support those people with our latest fund.”

On a call with TechCrunch Muirhead added: “The thing to note here is that there’s a recognition at European Commission level, that this area is one of geopolitical significance for the EU bloc. On the one hand, you have the ‘wild west’ approach of North America, and, arguably, on the other is the surveillance state of the Chinese Communist Party.”

He said: “The European Commission, I think, believes that there is a third way for the individual, and to use this new wave of technology for the individual. Also for businesses. So we can have networks and marketplaces of individuals sharing their data for their own benefit, and businesses in supply chains sharing data for their own mutual benefits. So that’s the driving view.”

#accelerator-ventures, #articles, #blockchains, #china, #chinese-communist-party, #computing, #cryptocurrencies, #decentralization, #earlybird, #ethereum, #europe, #european-commission, #european-investment-fund, #european-union, #fabric-ventures, #felix-capital, #google, #managing-partner, #mysql, #north-america, #paypal, #railsbank, #rpx, #sun-microsystems, #tc, #technology, #united-states, #verifone, #yoyo-wallet

Putting a Price on Pollution

The European Union has an ambitious plan to phase out the bloc’s reliance on fossil fuels. Will it work?

#climate-change-album, #europe, #european-commission, #global-warming

Help! I’m Traveling to Europe. All The Required Documentation Is Dizzying

For three confused but vaccinated travelers, our columnist tries to make sense of the new rules of entry into the European Union.

#airlines-and-airplanes, #airports, #content-type-service, #delta-air-lines-inc, #european-commission, #european-medicines-agency, #european-union, #travel-and-vacations, #vaccination-and-immunization, #vaccination-proof-and-immunization-records

Europe Rolls Out Ambitious Climate Change Plan, but Obstacles Loom

The proposal would impose tariffs on some imports from countries with looser environmental rules. It would also mean the end of sales in the European Union of new gas- and diesel-powered cars in just 14 years.

#alternative-and-renewable-energy, #carbon-caps-and-emissions-trading-programs, #carbon-dioxide, #customs-tariff, #economic-conditions-and-trends, #energy-efficiency, #europe, #european-commission, #european-union, #fuel-efficiency, #fuel-emissions-transportation, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #international-trade-and-world-market, #oil-petroleum-and-gasoline, #politics-and-government

Controversial WhatsApp policy change hit with consumer law complaint in Europe

Facebook has been accused of multiple breaches of European Union consumer protection law as a result of its attempts to force WhatsApp users to accept controversial changes to the messaging platforms’ terms of use — such as threatening users that the app would stop working if they did not accept the updated policies by May 15.

The consumer protection association umbrella group, the Beuc, said today that together with eight of its member organizations it’s filed a complaint with the European Commission and with the European network of consumer authorities.

“The complaint is first due to the persistent, recurrent and intrusive notifications pushing users to accept WhatsApp’s policy updates,” it wrote in a press release.

“The content of these notifications, their nature, timing and recurrence put an undue pressure on users and impair their freedom of choice. As such, they are a breach of the EU Directive on Unfair Commercial Practices.”

After earlier telling users that notifications about the need to accept the new policy would become persistent, interfering with their ability to use the service, WhatsApp later rowed back from its own draconian deadline.

However the app continues to bug users to accept the update — with no option not to do so (users can close the policy prompt but are unable to decline the new terms or stop the app continuing to pop-up a screen asking them to accept the update).

“In addition, the complaint highlights the opacity of the new terms and the fact that WhatsApp has failed to explain in plain and intelligible language the nature of the changes,” the Beuc went on. “It is basically impossible for consumers to get a clear understanding of what consequences WhatsApp’s changes entail for their privacy, particularly in relation to the transfer of their personal data to Facebook and other third parties. This ambiguity amounts to a breach of EU consumer law which obliges companies to use clear and transparent contract terms and commercial communications.”

The organization pointed out that WhatsApp’s policy updates remain under scrutiny by privacy regulations in Europe — which it argues is another factor that makes Facebook’s aggressive attempts to push the policy on users highly inappropriate.

And while this consumer-law focused complaint is separate to the privacy issues the Beuc also flags — which are being investigated by EU data protection authorities (DPAs) — it has called on those regulators to speed up their investigations, adding: “We urge the European network of consumer authorities and the network of data protection authorities to work in close cooperation on these issues.”

The Beuc has produced a report setting out its concerns about the WhatsApp ToS change in more detail — where it hits out at the “opacity” of the new policies, further asserting:

“WhatsApp remains very vague about the sections it has removed and the ones it has added. It is up to users to seek out this information by themselves. Ultimately, it is almost impossible for users to clearly understand what is new and what has been amended. The opacity of the new policies is in breach of Article 5 of the UCTD [Unfair Contract Terms Directive] and is also a misleading and unfair practice prohibited under Article 5 and 6 of the UCPD [Unfair Commercial Practices Directive].”

Reached for comment on the consumer complaint, a WhatsApp spokesperson told us:

“Beuc’s action is based on a misunderstanding of the purpose and effect of the update to our terms of service. Our recent update explains the options people have to message a business on WhatsApp and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data. The update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook, and does not impact the privacy of your messages with friends or family, wherever they are in the world. We would welcome an opportunity to explain the update to Beuc and to clarify what it means for people.”

The Commission was also contacted for comment on the Beuc’s complaint — we’ll update this report if we get a response.

The complaint is just the latest pushback in Europe over the controversial terms change by Facebook-owned WhatsApp — which triggered a privacy warning from Italy back in January, followed by an urgency procedure in Germany in May when Hamburg’s DPA banned the company from processing additional WhatsApp user data.

Although, earlier this year, Facebook’s lead data regulator in the EU, Ireland’s Data Protection Commission, appeared to accept Facebook’s reassurances that the ToS changes do not affect users in the region.

German DPAs were less happy, though. And Hamburg invoked emergency powers allowed for in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in a bid to circumvent a mechanism in the regulation that (otherwise) funnels cross-border complaints and concerns via a lead regulator — typically where a data controller has their regional base (in Facebook/WhatsApp’s case that’s Ireland).

Such emergency procedures are time-limited to three months. But the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) confirmed today that its plenary meeting will discuss the Hamburg DPA’s request for it to make an urgent binding decision — which could see the Hamburg DPA’s intervention set on a more lasting footing, depending upon what the EDPB decides.

In the meanwhile, calls for Europe’s regulators to work together to better tackle the challenges posed by platform power are growing, with a number of regional competition authorities and privacy regulators actively taking steps to dial up their joint working — in a bid to ensure that expertise across distinct areas of law doesn’t stay siloed and, thereby, risk disjointed enforcement, with conflicting and contradictory outcomes for Internet users.

There seems to be a growing understanding on both sides of the Atlantic for a joined up approach to regulating platform power and ensuring powerful platforms don’t simply get let off the hook.

 

#beuc, #europe, #european-commission, #european-data-protection-board, #european-union, #facebook, #gdpr, #general-data-protection-regulation, #germany, #hamburg, #ireland, #policy, #privacy, #social, #social-media, #whatsapp

UK gets data flows deal from EU — for now

The UK’s digital businesses can breathe a sign of relief today as the European Commission has officially signed off on data adequacy for the (now) third country, post-Brexit.

It’s a big deal for UK businesses as it means the country will be treated by Brussels as having essentially equivalent data protection rules as markets within the bloc, despite no longer being a member itself — enabling personal data to continue to flow freely from the EU to the UK, and avoiding any new legal barriers.

The granting of adequacy status has been all but assured in recent weeks, after European Union Member States signed off on a draft adequacy arrangement. But the Commission’s adoption of the decision marks the final step in the process — at least for now.

It’s notable that the Commission’s PR includes a clear warning that if the UK seeks to weaken protections afforded to people’s data under the current regime it “will intervene”.

In a statement, Věra Jourová, Commission VP for values and transparency, said:

The UK has left the EU but today its legal regime of protecting personal data is as it was. Because of this, we are adopting these adequacy decisions today. At the same time, we have listened very carefully to the concerns expressed by the Parliament, the Members States and the European Data Protection Board, in particular on the possibility of future divergence from our standards in the UK’s privacy framework. We are talking here about a fundamental right of EU citizens that we have a duty to protect. This is why we have significant safeguards and if anything changes on the UK side, we will intervene.”

The UK adequacy decision comes with a Sword of Damocles baked in: A sunset clause of four years. It’s a first — so, er, congratulations to the UK government for projecting a perception of itself as untrustworthy over the short run.

This clause means the UK’s regime will face full scrutiny again in 2025, with no automatic continuation if its standards are deemed to have slipped (as many fear they will).

The Commission also emphasizes that its decision does not mean the UK has four ‘guaranteed’ years in the clear. On the contrary, it says it will “continue to monitor the legal situation in the UK and could intervene at any point, if the UK deviates from the level of protection currently in place”.

Third countries without an adequacy agreement — such as the US, which has adequacy twice struck down by Europe’s top court (after it found US surveillance law incompatible with EU fundamental rights) — do not enjoy ‘seamless’ legal certainty around personal data flows; and must instead take steps to assess each of these transfers individually to determine whether (and how) they can move data legally.

Last week, the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) put out its final bit of guidance for third countries wanting to transfer personal data outside the bloc. And the advice makes it clear that some types of transfers are unlikely to be possible.

For other types of transfers, the advice discusses a number of of supplementary measures (including technical steps like robust encryption) that may be possible for a data controller to use in order to, through their own technical, contractual and organizational effort, ramp up the level of protection to achieve the required standard.

It is, in short, a lot of work. And without today’s adequacy decision UK businesses would have had to get intimately acquainted with the EDPB’s guidance. For now, though, they’ve dodged that bullet.

The qualifier is still very necessary, though, because the UK government has signalled that it intends to rethink data protection.

How exactly it goes about that — and to what extent it changes the current ‘essentially equivalent’ regime — may make all the difference. For example, Digital minister Oliver Dowden has talked about data being “a great opportunity” for the UK, post-Brexit.

And writing in the FT back in February he suggested there will be room for the UK to rewrite its national data protection rules without diverging so much that it puts adequacy at risk. “We fully intend to maintain those world-class standards. But to do so, we do not need to copy and paste the EU’s rule book, the General Data Protection Regulation, word-for-word,” he suggested then, adding that: “Countries as diverse as Israel and Uruguay have successfully secured adequacy with Brussels despite having their own data regimes. Not all of those were identical to GDPR, but equal doesn’t have to mean the same. The EU doesn’t hold the monopoly on data protection.”

The devil will, as they say, be in the detail. But some early signals are concerning — and the UK’s startup ecosystem would be well advised to take an active role in impressing upon government the importance to stay aligned with European data standards.

Moreover, there’s also the prospect of a legal challenge to the adequacy decision — even as is, i.e. based on current UK standards (which find plenty of critics). Certainly it can’t be ruled out — and the CJEU hasn’t shied away from quashing other adequacy arrangements it judged to be invalid…

Today, though, the Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS) has seized the chance to celebrate a PR win, writing that the Commission’s decision “rightly recognises the country’s high data protection standards”.

The department also reiterated the UK government’s intention to “promote the free flow of personal data globally and across borders”, including through what it bills as “ambitious new trade deals and through new data adequacy agreements with some of the fastest growing economies” — simultaneously claiming it would do so “while ensuring people’s data continues to be protected to a high standard”. Pinky promise.

“All future decisions will be based on what maximises innovation and keeps up with evolving tech,” the DCMS added in a press release. “As such, the government’s approach will seek to minimise burdens on organisations seeking to use data to tackle some of the most pressing global issues, including climate change and the prevention of disease.”

In a statement, Dowden also made a point of combining both streams, saying: “We will now focus on unlocking the power of data to drive innovation and boost the economy while making sure we protect people’s safety and privacy.”

UK business and tech associations were just as quick to welcome the Commission’s adequacy decision. The alternative would of course have been very costly disruption.

In a statement, John Foster, director of policy for the Confederation of British Industry, said: “This breakthrough in the EU-UK adequacy decision will be welcomed by businesses across the country. The free flow of data is the bedrock of the modern economy and essential for firms across all sectors– from automotive to logistics — playing an important role in everyday trade of goods and services. This positive step will help us move forward as we develop a new trading relationship with the EU.”

In another supporting statement, Julian David, CEO of techUK, added: “Securing an EU-UK adequacy decision has been a top priority for techUK and the wider tech industry since the day after the 2016 referendum. The decision that the UK’s data protection regime offers an equivalent level of protection to the EU GDPR is a vote of confidence in the UK’s high data protection standards and is of vital importance to UK-EU trade as the free flow of data is essential to all business sectors.

“The data adequacy decision also provides a basis for the UK and EU to work together on global routes for the free flow of data with trust, building on the G7 Digital and Technology declaration and possibly unlocking €2TR of growth. The UK must also now move to complete the development of its own international data transfer regime in order to allow companies in the UK not just to exchange data with the EU but also to be able to access opportunities across the world.”

The Commission has actually adopted two UK adequacy decisions today — one under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and another for the Law Enforcement Directive.

Discussing key elements in its decision to grant the UK adequacy, EU lawmakers highlighted the fact the UK’s (current) system is based upon transposed European rules; that access to personal data by public authorities in the UK (such as for national security reasons) is done under a framework that has what it dubbed as “strong safeguards” (such as intercepts being subject to prior authorisation by an independent judicial body; measures needing to be necessary and proportionate; and redress mechanisms for those who believe they are subject to unlawful surveillance).

The Commission also noted that the UK is subject to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights; must adhere to the European Convention of Human Rights; and the Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data — aka “the only binding international treaty in the area of data protection”.

“These international commitments are an essential elements of the legal framework assessed in the two adequacy decisions,” the Commission notes. 

Data transfers for the purposes of UK immigration control have been excluded from the scope of the adequacy decision adopted under the GDPR — with the Commission saying that’s “in order to reflect a recent judgment of the England and Wales Court of Appeal on the validity and interpretation of certain restrictions of data protection rights in this area”.

“The Commission will reassess the need for this exclusion once the situation has been remedied under UK law,” it added.

So, again, there’s another caveat right there.

#brexit, #data-controller, #data-protection, #data-security, #encryption, #europe, #european-commission, #european-court-of-human-rights, #european-data-protection-board, #european-union, #general-data-protection-regulation, #oliver-dowden, #personal-data, #policy, #privacy, #surveillance-law, #uk-government, #united-kingdom, #united-states

Dear EU: It’s time to get a grip

The EU for all its lethargy, faults and fetishization of bureaucracy, is, ultimately, a good idea. It might be 64 years from the formation of the European Common Market, but it is 29 years since the EU’s formation in the Maastricht Treaty, and this international entity is definitely still acting like an indecisive millennial, happy to flit around tech startup policy. It’s long due time for this digital nomad to commit to one ‘location’ on how it treats startups.

If there’s one thing we can all agree on, this is a unique moment in time. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the acceptance of technology globally, especially in Europe. Thankfully, tech companies and startups have proven to be more resilient than much of the established economy. As a result, the EU’s political leaders have started to look towards the innovation economy for a more sustainable future in Europe.

But this moment has not come soon enough.

The European tech scene is still lagging behind its US and Asia counterparts in numbers of startups created, talent in the tech sector, financing rounds, and IPOs / exits. It doesn’t help, of course, that the European market is so fractionalized, and will be for a long time to come.

But there is absolutely no excuse when it comes to the EU’s obligations to reform startup legislation, taxation, and the development of talent, to “level the playing field” against the US and Asian tech giants.

But, to put it bluntly: The EU can’t seem to get its shit together around startups.

Consider this litany of proposals.

Starting as far back a 2016 we had the Start-Up and Scale-Up Initiative. We even had the Scale-Up Manifesto in the same year. Then there was the Cluj Recommendations (2019), and the Not Optional campaign for options reform in 2020.

Let’s face it, the community of VC´s, founders, and startup associations in Europe has been saying mostly the same things for years, to national and European leaders.

Finally, this year, we got something approaching a summation of all these efforts.

Portugal, which has the European presidency for the first half of this year, took the bull by its horns and created something approaching a final draft of what the EU needs.

After, again, intense consultations with European ecosystem stakeholders, it identified eight best practices in order to level the playing field covering the gamut of issues such as fast startup creation, talent, stock options, innovation in regulation and access to finance. You name it, it covered it.

These were then put into the Startup Nations Standard and presented to the European Council at Digital Day on March 19th, together with the European Commission’s DG CNECT and its Commissioner Tierry Breton. I wrote about this at the time.

Would the EU finally get a grip, and sign up for these evidently workable proposals?

It seemed, at least, that we might be getting somewhere. Some 25 member states signed the declaration that day, and perhaps for the first time, the political consensus seemed to be forming around this policy.

Indeed, a body set up to shepherd the initiative (the European Startup Nations Alliance) was even announced by Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa which, he said, would be tasked with monitoring, developing and optimizing the standards, collecting data from the member states on their success and failure, and reporting on its findings in a bi-annual conference aligned with the changing presidency of the European Council.

It would seem we could pop open a chilled bottle of DOC Bairrada Espumante and celebrate that Europe might finally start implementing at least the basics from these suggested policies.

But no. With the pandemic still raging, it seemed the EU’s leaders still had plenty of time on their hands to ponder these subjects.

Thus it was that the Scaleup Europe initiative emerged from the mind of Emmanuel Macron, assembling a select group of 150-plus of Europe’s leading tech founders, investors, researchers, corporate CEOs and government officials to do some more pondering about startups. And then there was the Global Powerhouse Initiative of DG Research & Innovations Commissioner, Mariya Gabriel.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we were about to go through this process all over again, with the EU acting as if it had the memory span of a giant goldfish.

Now, I’m not arguing that all these collective actions are a bad thing. But, by golly, European startups need more decisive action than this.

As things stand, instead of implementing the very reasonable Portuguese proposals, we will now have to wait for the EU’s wheels to slowly turn until the French presidency comes around next year.

That said, with any luck, a body to oversee the implementation of tech startup policy that is mandated by the European community, composed of organizations like La French Tech, Startup Portugal and Startup Estonia, might finally seem within reach.

But to anyone from the outside, it feels again as if the gnashing of EU policy teeth will have to go on yet longer. With the French calling for a ‘La French Tech for Europe’ and the Portuguese having already launched ESNA, the efforts seem far from coordinated.

In the final analysis, tech startup founders and investors could not care less where this new body comes from or which country launches it.

After years of contributions, years of consultations, the time for action is now.

It’s time for EU member states to agree, and move forward, helping other member states catch up based on established best practices.

It’s time for the long-awaited European Tech Giants to blossom, take on the US-born Big Tech Giants, and for Europe to finally punch its weight.

#articles, #asia, #emmanuel-macron, #entrepreneurship, #europe, #european-commission, #european-union, #french-tech, #mariya-gabriel, #opinion, #portugal, #private-equity, #startup-company, #tc, #united-states

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