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Holocaust Memorial Day: Chief Rabbi Goldschmidt says EU doing a lot to tackle online antisemitism

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Today (27 January), the European Parliament will mark International Holocaust Commemoration Day with a virtual ceremony. Seventy-six years after the Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp was liberated on 27 January 1945. 

The President of the European Parliament David Sassoli has invited the President of the Conference of European Rabbis, Chief Rabbi of Moscow, Pinchas Goldschmidt and from Gyula Sárközi, dancer, choreographer and representative of the Roma community to speak. EU Reporter spoke with Rabbi Goldschmidt.

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Rabbi Goldschmidt said: “Today we have a community of about 1.6 million Jews left in Europe. Before the Holocaust, we had 9.5 million Jews here. So 6 million were killed, and many decided afterwards to emigrate to safer shores. I see it as my duty as the president of the conference of Ukrainian rabbis to make sure that there is a Jewish future.”

“I think that the European Union is doing a lot, especially lately tackling anti-semitism which is spreading through social media and via social media, calling the tech giants to the table and telling them that they have to monitor and be responsible for the content on their platforms. 

"However, anti-semitism is not the only issue our community is dealing with, we're also dealing with infringement of religious freedoms. In some of the European countries, that's a trend which is becoming more prevalent lately, because of the populism, which is traveling through this continent. And we would like to see more action from the European Union in this respect.”

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The rabbi is concerned specifically with moves in certain EU states to ban ritual slaughter, necessary in kosher food production: “They always declare that Europe without Jews is not Europe, Belgium, without Jews is not Belgium. Okay? If you want to choose to stay in your country, in your region, you have to give them freedom of faith; to tell them, you can stay here, but we're going to tell you how to conduct your religion. That's not freedom of faith.”

The commemoration includes a minute of silence in honour of the victims of the Holocaust and the prayer El Maleh Rahamim, recited by Israel Muller, Chief Cantor of the Great Synagogue of Europe in Brussels, as well as a performance of traditional Yiddish songs by Gilles Sadowsky (clarinet) and Hanna Bardos (voice).

Cyprus

NextGenerationEU: European Commission disburses €157 million in pre-financing to Cyprus

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The European Commission has disbursed €157 million to Cyprus in pre-financing, equivalent to 13% of the country's financial allocation under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). The pre-financing payment will help to kick-start the implementation of the crucial investment and reform measures outlined in Cyprus' recovery and resilience plan. The Commission will authorise further disbursements based on the implementation of the investments and reforms outlined in Cyprus' recovery and resilience plan.

The country is set to receive €1.2 billion in total over the lifetime of its plan, with €1 billion provided in grants and €200m in loans. Today's disbursement follows the recent successful implementation of the first borrowing operations under NextGenerationEU. By the end of the year, the Commission intends to raise up to a total of €80bn in long-term funding, to be complemented by short-term EU-Bills, to fund the first planned disbursements to member states under NextGenerationEU. Part of NextGenerationEU, the RRF will provide €723.8bn (in current prices) to support investments and reforms across member states.

The Cypriot plan is part of the unprecedented EU response to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, fostering the green and digital transitions and strengthening resilience and cohesion in our societies. A press release is available online.

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Belgium

EU Cohesion policy: Belgium, Germany, Spain and Italy receive €373 million to support health and social services, SMEs and social inclusion

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The Commission has granted €373 million to five European Social Fund (ESF) and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) operational programmes (OPs) in Belgium, Germany, Spain and Italy to help the countries with coronavirus emergency response and repair in the framework of REACT-EU. In Belgium, the modification of the Wallonia OP will make available an additional €64.8m for the acquisition of medical equipment for health services and innovation.

The funds will support small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in developing e-commerce, cybersecurity, websites and online stores, as well as the regional green economy through energy efficiency, protection of the environment, development of smart cities and low-carbon public infrastructures. In Germany, in the Federal State of Hessen, €55.4m will support health-related research infrastructure, diagnostic capacity and innovation in universities and other research institutions as well as research, development and innovation investments in the fields of climate and sustainable development. This amendment will also provide support to SMEs and funds for start-ups through an investment fund.

In Sachsen-Anhalt, €75.7m will facilitate cooperation of SMEs and institutions in research, development and innovation, and provide investments and working capital for micro-enterprises affected by the coronavirus crisis. Moreover, the funds will allow investments in the energy efficiency of enterprises, support digital innovation in SMEs and acquiring digital equipment for schools and cultural institutions. In Italy, the national OP ‘Social Inclusion' will receive €90m to promote the social integration of people experiencing severe material deprivation, homelessness or extreme marginalisation, through ‘Housing First' services that combine the provision of immediate housing with enabling social and employment services.

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In Spain, €87m will be added to the ESF OP for Castilla y León to support the self-employed and workers who had their contracts suspended or reduced due to the crisis. The money will also help hard-hit companies avoid layoffs, especially in the tourism sector. Finally, the funds are needed to allow essential social services to continue in a safe way and to ensure educational continuity throughout the pandemic by hiring additional staff.

REACT-EU is part of NextGenerationEU and provides €50.6bn additional funding (in current prices) to Cohesion policy programmes over the course of 2021 and 2022. Measures focus on supporting labour market resilience, jobs, SMEs and low-income families, as well as setting future-proof foundations for the green and digital transitions and a sustainable socio-economic recovery.

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European Commission

NextGenerationEU: European Commission disburses €2.25 billion in pre-financing to Germany

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The European Commission has disbursed €2.25 billion to Germany in pre-financing, equivalent to 9% of the country's financial allocation under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). This corresponds to the pre-financing amount requested by Germany in its recovery and resilience plan. The pre-financing payment will help kick-start the implementation of the crucial investment and reform measures outlined in Germany's recovery and resilience plan. The Commission will authorise further disbursements based on the implementation of the investments and reforms outlined in Germany's recovery and resilience plan.

The country is set to receive €25.6bn in total, fully consisting of grants, over the lifetime of its plan. The disbursement follows the recent successful implementation of the first borrowing operations under NextGenerationEU. By the end of the year, the Commission intends to raise up to a total of €80bn in long-term funding, to be complemented by short-term EU-Bills, to fund the first planned disbursements to member states under NextGenerationEU. Part of NextGenerationEU, the RRF will provide €723.8bn (in current prices) to support investments and reforms across member states. The German plan is part of the unprecedented EU response to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, fostering the green and digital transitions and strengthening resilience and cohesion in our societies. A full press release is available here.

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