Seven Days in Europe

The much-hyped budget talks were abandoned, after a second compromise attempt to reconcile completely opposing positions on cuts failed. Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, insisted that it would still be feasible to find a compromise at the beginning of next year, and warned that the cost of no agreement would be too high for both the EU and all member states. Former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt had compared the atmosphere at the budget summit to that of a “Turkish bazaar”, where everyone needed to show they fought for a good deal, even though the sum is tiny compared to what national budgets are.

Reports differed on the Catalan elections – some argue that separatists lost territory and had overestimated public support for nationalist policies, whereas others predict a possible referendum on Catalan independence through an alliance between right and left wing republican parties. Political analyst Germa Capdevila told The Independent:

“These elections haven’t solved anything.”

Ireland is to reform its abortion law in the wake of the recent Savita Halappanavar tragedy. A group of medics and lawyers have been tasked with finding options for new rules on termination of pregnancies, and the government decision on this report is expected in December this year.

Nantes won the title of European Green Capital 2013. Its environmental credentials include the fact that every citizen lives within 300 metres of a green area, there are over 100,000 trees in the city, and 15% of its residents use public transport daily. It also has an ambitious Climate Action Plan to reduce carbon emissions by 30% per capita by 2020. In other environmental news figures on the use of wood as an energy source were published. Wood and wood waste counts for almost half of all renewable energy in the EU27.

Finally, Christmas markets came under fire for various reasons in Germany. Potsdam’s traditional market attracted criticism for setting up earlier than the usual Christmas market starting date, which is on the first day of Advent. A church official was quoted as saying that “not even the regime in the former communist East went this far”, and called for a boycott. Other public figures complained that in setting up the market before Germany’s Remembrance Sunday had passed, the organisers had showed disdain for those killed in the two world wars. Hamburg and Heidelberg’s Christmas markets have also already opened. Hans-Peter Ahrens, president of Germany’s market stall holders association, told Der Spiegel :

“I know the church encourages reflection, but I can only be reflective when the cash register is ringing.”

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