Police arrest 106 people tied to mafia-connected cybercrime group

After a year-long investigation, police in Europe say they have arrested 106 people in connection to a large cybercrime ring with close ties to the Italian mafia. The group, which cops say operated out of a headquarters in Spain’s Canary Islands, is alleged to have defrauded hundreds of victims by carrying out a variety of online schemes, including phishing operations, business email compromise attacks, and SIM swapping. Criminal operations allegedly encompassed a wide range of activities, including “online fraud, money laundering, drug trafficking and property crime.” Police said they had recently raided 16 houses in Spain and Italy as part of the … Continue reading Police arrest 106 people tied to mafia-connected cybercrime group

Polish army deployed to Belarus border amid migrant surge

Poland has deployed hundreds of troops to support its border guards at the frontier with Belarus as a surge of refugees and migrants sought to enter the country. Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said on Wednesday that more than 900 Polish troops were involved in the operation. It is understood that most of the refugees and migrants trying to cross are from Iraq. Late on Tuesday, a Polish deputy interior minister tweeted that the border with Belarus is sealed and that the soldiers have been there for a week. Poland, like Lithuania and other Baltic nations, accuses the authoritarian government of … Continue reading Polish army deployed to Belarus border amid migrant surge

No breakthrough on NI protocol after PM speaks to EU chief

Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen have failed to reach agreement on UK demands to reshape post-Brexit arrangements in Northern Ireland. The PM and president of the European Commission spoke earlier about the UK’s suggested changes to the Northern Ireland protocol. Ms von der Leyen said that the EU will “not renegotiate” the original deal. But a Downing Street spokesman said the PM reiterated the protocol is “unsustainable” and must be changed. Mr Johnson also urged German Chancellor Angela Merkel to consider “significant changes” to the agreement during a call on Thursday, No 10 said. The UK and EU … Continue reading No breakthrough on NI protocol after PM speaks to EU chief

EU Commission approves Czech recovery plan of 7 billion euros

The European Commission approved on Wednesday the Czech Republic’s 7 billion euro plan to recover from the pandemic and transform the economy to become greener and more digitalized in coming years. The scheme will be financed from EU grants until 2026. Once the plan is also approved by EU finance ministers, Czechia will get 910 million euros in pre-financing for projects foreseen under the plan. More cash will be paid out on completion of agreed stages of the reforms and investment spelled out in the approved plan. The Commission said Czechia planned to spend 42% of its money to reach … Continue reading EU Commission approves Czech recovery plan of 7 billion euros

Top EU court rules hijab can be banned at work

The European Union’s top court has ruled that employers may forbid the wearing of visible symbols of religious or political belief, such as headscarves. But the Luxembourg-based tribunal said in its ruling on Thursday that courts in the bloc’s 27 member states should weigh up whether the ban corresponded to a “genuine need” on the part of the employer. They must also consider the rights and interests of the employee, including by taking into account national legislation on freedom of religion, it said. “A prohibition on wearing any visible form of expression of political, philosophical or religious beliefs in the … Continue reading Top EU court rules hijab can be banned at work

Spanish, Lithuanian leaders press conference interrupted by jet fighter scramble

A press conference of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda at a Lithuanian air base was interrupted on Thursday when Spanish jets were scrambled to respond to the launch of a Russian warplane. A live broadcast showed the news conference at Siauliai Air Base, in front of the nose of a military jet, interrupted after three minutes, as pilots began running towards the plane and climbing inside. Nauseda briefly continued speaking, until he and Sanchez were led aside. The podiums and flags were removed and media dispersed to clear the way for take-off. Spanish jets, based … Continue reading Spanish, Lithuanian leaders press conference interrupted by jet fighter scramble

EU digital Covid-19 certificates will be open to non-EU international travelers

The EU digital Covid-19 certificate for travel can be opened to non-EU international travelers, including those from the United States, subject to individual member states’ acceptance of proof of vaccination, a negative test result or recovery from Covid-19 infection, an EU Commission spokesperson told CNN on Wednesday. “Right now if you’re an American, not living in the EU, you could get the certificate if you ask the national authorities of a member state to give you that certificate based on some proof that you’ve been vaccinated, or had a recent Covid test,” said the spokesperson with knowledge of the policy. … Continue reading EU digital Covid-19 certificates will be open to non-EU international travelers

Belarus: Russia blocks some flights for avoiding its ally

Russia has denied entry to two European airlines because they planned to avoid flying over Belarus to get to Moscow. Air France and Austrian Airlines have both had to cancel services after their flight plans were rejected by Russia. Some airlines are avoiding Belarusian airspace in protest after the government there forced a Ryanair plane to divert and land in Minsk on Sunday. A Belarusian dissident journalist and his girlfriend were then arrested. Russia is a strong ally of Belarus, and has remained steadfast in its support of the former soviet nation and its government. It is the first move … Continue reading Belarus: Russia blocks some flights for avoiding its ally

Swiss abandon years of EU talks and reject treaty

After years of talks, Switzerland has scrapped efforts aimed at agreeing an over-arching treaty with the EU. Switzerland is not in the European Union but has signed up to many of its policies, such as freedom of movement. The relationship is currently governed by more than 120 bilateral deals, and a failure to replace them with one framework deal could harm ties. “We regret this decision, given the progress that has been made over the last years,” the EU Commission said. The EU-Switzerland free trade agreement dates back to 1972. The Commission – the executive body for the EU’s 27 … Continue reading Swiss abandon years of EU talks and reject treaty

Fish Fight: UK sends two navy boats to Jersey after France threatens blockade

Britain is sending two navy patrol boats to Jersey after France suggested it could cut power supplies to the Channel island if its fishermen are not granted full access to UK fishing waters under post-Brexit trading terms. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday promised his “unwavering support” for the island after he discussed the prospect of a French blockade with Jersey officials. Johnson “stressed the urgent need for a de-escalation in tensions,” a spokesperson for Johnson said. “As a precautionary measure the UK will be sending two Offshore Patrol Vessels to monitor the situation.” Paris and London have increasingly clashed … Continue reading Fish Fight: UK sends two navy boats to Jersey after France threatens blockade

Spain hopes for tourists as EU votes on digital passports

Spain has said it hopes to open up to overseas travellers from June, as plans for an EU-wide digital certificate go before the European Parliament. Tourism minister Fernando Valdés said a pilot test would take place in May so that Spain would be ready to receive travellers the following month. The EU has been working on a digital pass in time for the summer holidays. It would cover anyone who is either vaccinated against Covid, has a negative test or recently recovered. Several countries have already begun using digital or paper passes to help ease local lockdowns. Mr Valdés told … Continue reading Spain hopes for tourists as EU votes on digital passports

Sofagate: EU chief Ursula von der Leyen blames sexism for Turkey chair snub

The first female president of the European Commission has vowed to defend women’s rights after admitting to feeling “hurt” by a chair snub during a summit with male leaders in Turkey. Ursula von der Leyen was left without a chair at a meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Ankara on 6 April. Turkey was criticised, as was EU Council President Charles Michel, who took the only chair next to Mr Erdoğan. Turkey blamed the EU for the gaffe that saw Mrs von der Leyen sit on a sofa. But in a speech to the European Parliament on Monday, Mrs … Continue reading Sofagate: EU chief Ursula von der Leyen blames sexism for Turkey chair snub