Members of the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee have adopted new rules protecting the collective interests of consumers. Until now, consumers in different member states have not had the opportunity to join forces to pursue an appeal through representative action. Once this text is implemented, victims of unfair and illegal commercial practices, such as the false advertising during the Dieselgate scandal, will be able to act together and see their damage repaired.
Geoffroy Didier MEP, rapporteur, said: "The Dieselgate scandal was a turning point for Europe. It is urgent that we better protect consumers. This vote is a major step and a first victory for them. Europe is becoming a shield."
"I fought to gather a majority around a fair balance: to facilitate access to justice for citizens while giving them new rights, and protect companies while creating safeguards to avoid abusive remedies. These elements must go together."
The EPP group made sure that the new rules will prevent abuses initiated, for example, by competitive firms. "In some countries, large companies resort to specialized law firms only to disrupt their competition. The European text we agreed on will protect us from such abuses seen in American class action suits. The EU is now being responsible. Companies' reputations should not be sacrificed and we cannot tamper with their economic situation and the numerous jobs they provide," concluded Didier.
EU imposes sanctions on Russians linked to Navalny poisoning and detention
The Council today(2 March) decided to impose restrictive measures on four Russian individuals responsible for serious human rights violations, including arbitrary arrests and detentions, as well as widespread and systematic repression of freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, and freedom of opinion and expression in Russia.
Alexander Bastrykin, head of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, Igor Krasnov, the Prosecutor-General, Viktor Zolotov, head of the National Guard, and Alexander Kalashnikov, head of the Federal Prison Service have been listed over their roles in the arbitrary arrest, prosecution and sentencing of Alexei Navalny, as well as the repression of peaceful protests in connection with his unlawful treatment.
This is the first time that the EU imposes sanctions in the framework of the new EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime which was established on 7 December 2020. The sanctions regime enables the EU to target those responsible for acts such as genocide, crimes against humanity and other serious human rights violations or abuses such as torture, slavery, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests or detentions.
The restrictive measures that entered into force today in follow up to discussions by the Foreign Affairs Council on 22 February 2021 consist of a travel ban and asset freeze. In addition, persons and entities in the EU are forbidden from making funds available to those listed, either directly or indirectly.
- Official Journal of the EU: Council Decision and Implementing Regulation concerning restrictive measures against serious human rights violations and abuses (including list of sanctioned individuals)
- Foreign Affairs Council, 22 February 2021
- Russia: Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the EU on the arrest of Alexei Navalny upon his return, 18 January 2021
- EU adopts a global human rights sanctions regime, 7 December 2020 press release
Nine EU-supported films compete in the 2021 Berlin International Film Festival
The 71st Berlin International Film Festival began on 1 March, this year in its digital edition due to the coronavirus pandemicnine EU-supported films and series, three of which are competing for the highest prize, the Golden Bear: Memory Box by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Nebenan (Next Door) by Daniel Brühl, and Természetes fény (Natural Light) by Dénes Nagy. The EU supported the development and co-production of these nine titles with an investment of over €750 000 that was awarded through the Creative Europe MEDIA programme. Targeted to film professionals and media, the Berlinale film festival is hosting the European Film Market, where the Creative Europe MEDIA programme is active with a virtual stand as well as with the European Film Forum. The Forum that will take place online on 2 March will gather various professionals from the industry to discuss the future perspectives for the audiovisual sector in Europe. The Berlinale will run until 5 March, when the winning films will be announced. The second round of this year's festival, ‘The Summer Special', will take place in June 2021 and will open the films to the public and host the official Award Ceremony. More information is available here.
Yemen: €95 million in EU humanitarian aid for people threatened by conflict and famine
The European Commission is allocating €95 million in humanitarian support to address the most pressing needs of people in Yemen amid record highs of child malnutrition, an imminent threat of famine and renewed fighting. More than 2 million children as well as over 1 million pregnant women and mothers are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition in 2021, while escalating hostilities are forcing thousands of families to leave their households.
The new funding was announced by the Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič, at the high-level pledging event for Yemen on 1 March co-hosted by the United Nations, Sweden and Switzerland. Commissioner Lenarčič said: "The EU does not forget the dire situation of people in Yemen who are once again on the brink of famine after bearing the brunt of the world's worst humanitarian crisis. New EU funding will be essential in maintaining life-saving aid for millions of people, exhausted after a disastrous year marked by fighting, COVID-19 and further economic collapse. Parties to the conflict need to facilitate the access of humanitarian organisations to those most in need and avoid further civilian suffering. Now more than ever it is crucial that International Humanitarian Law and unrestricted access to those in need are upheld.”
In 2021, EU humanitarian aid will continue to provide food, nutrition and healthcare, financial assistance, water and sanitation, education and other lifesaving support to the conflict-displaced and those in severe need. The press release is available online.
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