Seven Days in Europe

The EU’s full ban on testing cosmetics on animals came into force. As from Monday cosmetics tested on animals cannot be marketed in the EU. The Commission, having considered the impacts of the marketing ban, decided the development of cosmetics does not warrant animal testing.

Italy has been dominating European news this week. The country is in a diplomatic crisis with India after refusing to return two Italian marines who have been charged in India with the murder of two fishermen. The men had been allowed to visit their home country in order to vote in last month’s elections, but were ordered to return within four weeks to face trial. As the incident took place in international waters, Italy believes India has no jurisdiction. On Wednesday India’s Supreme Court ordered the Italian ambassador to not leave the country.  

Berlusconi’s latest attempt to delay his trial for tax fraud and sex charges was to call in sick. Prosecutors believe he is using every trick and ruse he can to delay proceedings. The court has ordered that he undergo medical checks to verify that he is unable to stand trial due to an eye infection. Last week he was handed another jail sentence, his second in six months, for breach of confidentiality after one of his newspapers illegally published a wiretapped conversation concerning a political rival. Meanwhile, prosecutors in Naples have applied for an accelerated trial for Berlusconi on corruption charges.

The German cabinet agreed a bill that would allow women to give birth in hospitals under a false name. It sets out to reduce unsafe births by giving women a confidential alternative to abandoning unwanted newborns. However, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child warned that such a law “contravenes the right of the child to be known and cared for by his or her parents”.

In the third fatal Bulgarian self-immolation this year, a 53-year old man died after suffering 75% burns after setting light to himself in protest against economic hardship and government corruption. Protests have forced the Bulgarian government to resign, and elections are due to take place in May.

The European Parliament called for a renegotiation of the EU budget proposed by leaders of member states.  The budget was voted against by 506 to 161, with 23 MEPs abstaining. In other Parliamentary news it vetoed a definition of “absinthe” that had been drafted by the Commission. It was felt that the required minimum levels of anethole and thujone it proposed were not always met by traditional methods of production.

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