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News from the Capitals

News from the Capitals #59


France refuses to halt migrant expulsions from the ocean territory of Mayotte. 
The operation, called Operation Wuambushu (“Take Back” in the local language), aims to expel migrants from urban slums in Mayotte to improve living conditions for residents in France’s poorest department. Hundreds of members of the French security forces have been deployed for the operation in Mayotte, including some sent from Paris. We talk about thousands of people who could be deported to the Comoran islands. 

To not make anything easier Comoros, whose three islands lie to the northwest of Mayotte, said Monday it will refuse to allow a boat carrying migrants from Mayotte. Knowing that most of the undocumented migrants being deported are Comoran. It also said it had suspended passenger traffic at a port where deported migrants usually land.

New rates for medical consultations
After the failure of the negotiation between the French Health Insurance and the liberal doctors’ unions a few weeks ago, the verdict on the new rates for consultations with doctors fell this Monday.

The rates for medical consultations will increase by 1.5 euros before the end of the year, that is to say, 26.5 euros minimum for general practitioners and 31.5 euros for specialists.

This news annoys the doctors. This winter, the unions of liberal doctors have mobilized for several days for an increase of the consultations to 50 €. There is therefore a significant difference with what is proposed by the French Health Insurance.

These upgrades must still be approved by the Minister of Health, François Braun, who said in a statement that he will approve this text in the coming days.

The young doctors are completely demotivated and call for a renegotiation with the French Health Insurance as soon as possible.


Government plans legal action against nurses 
Following months of NHS nurses and doctors’ strikes for higher pay rises amid rising inflation rates in the UK, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced potential legal action to be taken against nurses. 

The government has so far failed to respond comprehensively to the requests of the NHS staff, leading to growing action that continues to disrupt emergency and elective care across England. The Health Secretary Steve Barclay argued this week that the strikes have become ‘unlawful’ and should no longer go ahead. 

The announcement to take legal action against nurses is facing growing opposition from unions and the general public, on the basis that the government is ‘bullying’ its own NHS nurses, acting oppressive, and ‘wasting’ taxpayers’ money.


Kai Wegner, CDU, elected as the new mayor of Berlin
After the re-election of the Berlin House of Representatives in February, the SPD and the CDU signed the coalition agreement yesterday. Today, the mayor-designate Kai Wegner of the CDU was elected in the third round of voting. The former mayor, Franziska Giffey, will take over the post of economic mentor. The science expert Ina Czyborra will become health senator. So far, Czyborra has had little contact with health and care policy and will first have to familiarize herself with it. In terms of Health care policies, the coalition aims to make the city a leading biotech location that combines top international research and good care. Together with Brandenburg, a future region for the health industry is to be created, which will at the same time be a global hotspot for novel therapies and support research projects on women’s health in particular.

Young organization of the AfD classified as “assured right-wing extremist”
The young organization, “Junge Alternative, JA”, of the AfD, the German right-wing party, has been under observation by the German Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesverfassungsschutz) for some time and has now been classified as “assured right-wing extremist movement” The press release of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution reads “The JA propagates the right-wing extremist concept of a society based on biologistic assumptions and postulates a state people that is as ethnoculturally homogeneous as possible,” it says. Citizens with a migration background are devalued as second-class Germans. It is precisely this understanding of the people that contradicts the German Law. The AfD’s parliamentary state secretary, Dr. Bernd Baumann, had strongly objected to this and voiced the accusation that the administrative protection was completely integrated into and subordinate to the federal ministry of the interior and the interior ministries in the Länder, which are all led by CDU or SPD. Therefore, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution is completely politicized and not objective.


Spain takes action to combat heatwave as temperatures soar unexpectedly early.
The high temperatures currently being experienced in Spain, which are unusual for this time of year, are leading some autonomous communities and even the central government to implement extraordinary measures. The Ministry of Health is proposing to bring forward the entry into force of the ‘National Plan for Preventive Actions against the Effects of Excessive Temperatures on Health’ to May 15th. In normal conditions, the plan would be activated on June 1st, but this year it will be implemented two weeks earlier due to the current temperatures. The plan aims to prevent and reduce the negative effects of heat on health, especially in vulnerable groups such as the elderly, pregnant women, minors, and chronically ill people. However, each autonomous community may activate the measures it deems necessary based on its situation.

European People’s Party Accuses European Commission of Partisanship in Doñana Dispute
The European People’s Party (EPP) has accused the European Commission of being partisan and campaigning for the Spanish government’s position against a proposed law to regulate irrigation in Doñana, calling on the EU executive to be a seeker of compromises. In response, socialist MEP Iratxe García has accused the EPP of losing sight of the situation and stated that the Commission must enforce treaties and judgments, warning that Doñana is in danger if the proposed law is enacted. The European Commission has emphasized the urgent need for measures to control extractions of groundwater, stating that current levels of exploitation are unsustainable and linked to the drying up or reduction of ponds across Doñana. The Lithuanian Commissioner for Environment, Virginijus Sinkevicius, has defended the Commission’s impartiality and highlighted that the implementation of the Court’s ruling is a priority as Doñana is important for Spain and the EU.

Gernika was declared the first place of democratic memory by the Spanish Government
The Spanish government has declared Gernika in the Basque Country the first place of democratic memory in the country, in recognition of the indiscriminate bombing of civilians during the Spanish Civil War in 1937 (famously immortalized by Picasso’s painting). On the 86th anniversary of the attack, the Minister of the Presidency, Relations with the Cortes and Democratic Memory, Félix Bolaños, visited the town to pay tribute to the victims and announced the declaration. The law on democratic memory provides for the declaration of places of democratic memory for their historical significance about the memory of the Spanish Civil War and its repression and violence against civilians. The mayor of Gernika has requested that the Spanish government also recognize Francoist responsibility for the bombing.


Asylum seekers are not sent back to Italy
On 27th April 2023, NOS News reported that the Council of State, the highest administrative court in the Netherlands, has ruled that the Netherlands is not allowed to send asylum seekers back to Italy due to the reception problems in Italy. The court stated that there is a real risk that asylum seekers will end up on the streets in Italy, which violates human rights. This ruling concerns two male asylum seekers who arrived in the Netherlands via Italy. One of them had already made three asylum applications in Italy, and the other only in the Netherlands. Although State Secretary Van der Burg (VVD) did not want to process the asylum applications and send the men back to Italy, which is allowed according to European rules, the judge put a stop to it because of the lack of shelter in Italy. It is possible to deviate from the return if the situation in that country violates human rights, which is the case in Italy, according to the Council of State.

The verdict disappointed Van der Burg, who stated that it would not have direct consequences as no asylum seekers had been returned to Italy since December because of the problems there. He also expects Italy to improve, and Brussels to better enforce the asylum rules. The Council of State has already ruled that a judge may not simply return asylum seekers to Croatia, Greece, and Malta. However, Refugee Work Netherlands welcomed the decision, calling it an enormous relief for asylum seekers who were threatened with deportation. According to the Council for Refugees, the ruling shows once again that the EU rules are no longer sufficient.

The introduction of the Nutri Score
On the 25th of April 2023, NOS News reported that the Nutri-Score will become the official food choice logo of the Dutch government starting next year, allowing food manufacturers and supermarkets to indicate the healthiness and nutritional value of products compared to others. The Nutri-Score, also known as the 5-Colour Nutrition label or 5-CNL, is a five-colour nutrition label and nutritional rating system,[1] and an attempt to simplify the nutritional rating system demonstrating the overall nutritional value of food products. It assigns products a rating letter from A (best) to E (worst), with associated colors from green to red. The labeling on packaging will receive legal status, helping consumers make informed decisions. Despite earlier controversy over the algorithm used to determine nutritional values, improvements have been made, leading State Secretary Maarten van Ooijen to approve the Nutri-Score for use. He will continue to advocate for further improvements in the method. While the Nutri-Score is seen as an additional tool for consumers, the government still regards the consumption of foods within the traditional “schijf van vijf” (Dutch food pyramid) as the most important factor. Starting January 1st, the use of the Nutri-Score with the improved calculation method will be voluntary, but it must be used for an entire product range, not just the healthier products.


“Forgive us for the colonization”. Signed: Portugal
“Portugal must apologise and assume responsibility for the exploitation and slavery during the colonial period” President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said in a speech following Brazilian President Lula da Silva’s welcoming session on Tuesday.

His speech was made at the session commemorating the 49th anniversary of the April 25th Revolution, which marks the 1974 military coup that put an end to the dictatorial Estado Novo regime and initiated the decolonization of the Portuguese colonies. The session took place in the Portuguese parliament after a welcome session for da Silva, which, in his opinion, “makes perfect sense” because Brazil “was a precursor in decolonization.

Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who in March had already criticized the right-wing parties for having opposed the intervention of Lula da Silva in the solemn session commemorating April 25, today said again that it makes perfect sense to associate this date with the President of Brazil.

During this commemorative session, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa also condemned the Portuguese who are “selfish before the dramas of immigrants”, who “build Portugal, pay Social Security, create wealth”.


Government enhances its actions on mental health
On 21 April the Deputy Minister of Health, Zoe Rapti signed the public tender for the creation of 30 new public structures, including 106 Mental Health Units that have been included for financing in the Recovery and Resilience Fund and provide free mental health services to all citizens.

These are Day Centers and Boarding Schools for Autism, Mobile Units for Involuntary Hospitalization, Day Centers for the Promotion of Mental Health through Art, as well as Mobile Units for the support of Children and Adolescents.

Neo-nazis call for more Democracy
In a statement from inside the prison Ilias Kasidiaris, convicted of running a criminal organization will be a candidate with the party “Ellines” (Greeks) in the first electoral district of Athens. The new president of the party, as reported, will be Brigadier General A.A. Dimitrios Chatziliadis.

As Ilias Kasidiaris states in his statement: “In the elections of May 21, I will be a candidate in Athens with the “Ellines” chaired by the Professor of the Evelpidon Military School, Brigadier General Dimitrios Chatziliadis.

More than half a million Greeks currently support our party. We have an obligation towards them to fight the great political and legal battle until the end. Any sworn Government or Judicial agent who attempts to illegally deprive half a million Greeks of their political rights and abolish free elections will commit the Crime of High Treason punishable by life imprisonment.”


German President Steinmeier on an official visit in Canada
Frank-Walter Steinmeier toured Canada this week, for an official visit of the country. The German President was shown around Ottawa by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Due to strikes, the visit was tone down, as it was originally a state visit which required more honours. In Vancouver, he visited German a fuel-cell manufacturer, and, accompanied by business representatives from Canada, he met with local entrepreneurs. They discussed ”the topics of Indigenous reconciliation, the net-zero economy and reorganizing supply chains in the Indo-Pacific region.” Steinmeier then headed to the North Western Territories, where he met with the local Governor, General Mary Simon, made a stop at the Joint Task Force North, and paid a visit to local Indigenous leaders. 

This visit aimed to reinforce political, commercial, and security ties between the two countries who share a long list of common objectives. 

Canada looks to refugee camps for healthcare workers 
Canada has been struggling with insufficient numbers of healthcare workers throughout the country. As a way to solve this problem, the federal government set up a program in 2018 called the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP) to bring healthcare workers to Canada. This program aims to address the shortage of workers while also offering better living condition to displaced people living in refugee camps. Individuals with medical qualifications and their dependents have been particularly targeted/ The hope was to welcome 2.000 people, but the pandemic and immigration laws have stood in the way of this ambition. Refugees across the world are thus still waiting to make it to Canada, although they’ve been accepted into the program years ago. This program is a creative way of addressing both medical personal shortages and the country’s immigration rules.

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