Seven Days in Europe

The Court of Justice of the European Union has changed its rules of procedure for the first time since 1953. The Court’s caseload is now dominated by references for preliminary rulings, and the new rules will devote a separate title to these references and take into account their particular procedural requirements whilst ensuring they are dealt with in a timely manner.

Norway announced that it will double the carbon tax on its oil industry and set up a fund to counteract the impact of climate change. It’s a bold move from an oil economy – Norway ranks third among the world’s oil exporters – and the Norwegian government has also pledged to buy NOK630 million of EU emissions credits.

The latest official figures from Greece show that unemployment exceeded a record 25% in July, with youth unemployment figures as high as 54%. The Greek government is struggling to implement the €11.5bn savings plan it must meet in order to qualify for the next bailout tranche. Angela Merkel’s visit to Athens on Tuesday was protested by thousands of Greek demonstrators who oppose the austerity measures. The demonstration turned violent, with riot police using tear gas on protestors.

A Marie Stopes family planning clinic will open in Belfast on 18 October 2012, which will be the first private clinic offering abortions on the island of Ireland. Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where the Abortion Act 1967 does not apply – fierce opposition from the churches means that in Northern Ireland abortions can be carried out only to preserve the life of the mother or if continuing the pregnancy would have other serious and permanent health effects. Marie Stopes has stated it will operate within the law of Northern Ireland and only offer non-surgical terminations performed up to nine weeks.

In the wake of the Libor/Eurlibor scandal the EP has moved to legislate on an international level. Proposed new EU legislation on market abuse would mean bankers caught manipulating the Libor exchange rate would face a minimum five-year jail term. The provisions were adopted by 39 votes to 0 with a single abstention in a vote by the Parliament’s economic and monetary affairs committee. MEPs will now seek a swift deal with EU government ministers by Christmas, with a view to implementing the legislation in 2013.

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